Afghan President Hamid Karzai is asking whether an increase in radicalism across an Islamic world “in turmoil” is the result of the U.S.-led campaign against terror. In a speech on Sunday, he said the U.S. “needs to explain itself” to Muslims.
In a series of veiled criticisms posed in the form of questions, Karzai in an address to the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar put the onus on the West to clarify its intentions in its dealings with the Islamic world.
After summarizing progress made in Afghanistan since the toppling of the Taliban – for which he said the Afghan people were grateful to the U.S. and other allies – Karzai said that was only “one side of the story.” The other side, he said, had to do with “the war on terror as it began in 2001 and as it moved forward until today.”
“By waging this war on terrorism, have we brought less radicalism in the Muslim world, or have we caused more radicalism in the Muslim world?” he asked. “The argument is definitely that the Muslim world has seen more radicalism – from Pakistan to Afghanistan, all the way to Mali and Nigeria.”
“Is this an unintended consequence of the war on terror, as some would argue? Or was this intended by the United States and the West, as some others would argue? In my view, the West – as led by the United States – needs to explain itself to the Muslim world.”
After an aside to chide the U.S. for not taking a position viewed as impartial in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Karzai continued in similar vein.
“Is the war on terror really against terrorism? If it is, and if it has caused more radicalism among the Muslims – especially among the youth – then something has gone wrong. Have we implemented it correctly? Questions must be asked.
“And if there is an increasing view among youth in the Muslim world that radicalism is actively promoted by the West, the question is why, and for what purpose? If this is not the intention of the West, then the West has to explain to the Muslim world if things have gone wrong,” he continued. “And a corrective course for action must be taken.”
“If we in the Muslim world are wrong about our perception of what the Western intention is in the Muslim world, then it is for the Western world to explain to us their intentions and objectives.”