Afghan Ex-President Denounces Bombing and Says He Wants U.S. Out


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Former President Hamid Karzai, right, in his office in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2016.

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Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — The United States’ bombing of Islamic State affiliates in Afghanistan has stirred up a political crisis for the local government, as former President Hamid Karzai on Saturday called his successor “a traitor” and declared he wanted the Americans gone.

In an interview with The New York Times, hours after he said he intended to work toward “ousting the U.S.,” a fuming Mr. Karzai said there was no justification for the United States to drop its most powerful conventional bomb in Afghanistan. The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast is referred to as the “mother of all bombs.”

He accused the American military of using and nurturing the ISIS affiliate as a tool to turn his country into a laboratory for use of its weapons.

Mr. Karzai said President Ashraf Ghani’s government had been an “accomplice” that allowed and welcomed the use of the bomb. Mr. Ghani’s government had said the bombing — which was said to have killed dozens of militants and destroyed three large caves in Nangarhar Province — had been coordinated.

“Shame on him for saying that, shame, shame,” Mr. Karzai said. “No Afghan with self-respect would do that.”

He added, ”He is a traitor, a traitor.”

A spokesman for President Ghani would not address Mr. Karzai’s harsh words directly. But Mr. Ghani’s office put out a brief post on Twitter, clearly aimed at Mr. Karzai: “Every Afghan has the right to speak their mind. This is a country of free speech.”

Long before the bombing, Mr. Karzai, who has grown staunchly anti-American in recent years despite coming to power with the help of the United States military, had been seen as a quiet opposition figure, albeit one intent on derailing Mr. Ghani’s government.

Even when he was in power, he was against the American use of air power on Afghan villages, but analysts say they believe the latest American bombing is giving him another political pretext to mobilize against the government.

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