Earlier this month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai received widespread criticism for spreading news to ordinary Afghans that radical pastor Terry Jones had burned a Quran at his church in Florida a week previously. Protests erupted around the country that left dozens dead, including UN workers, and hundreds wounded. Karzai “provoked people to take such actions. Karzai should have called on people to be patient rather than making people more angry,” one Afghan political analyst said.
Today, ThinkProgress spoke with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s Foreign Minster from 2001-2005, and Karzai’s main challenger for President in the country’s 2009 national elections, which were widely considered to be fraudulent. During the interview, Abdullah said that Karzai has made it his policy to promote anti-Americanism in Afghanistan:
ABDULLAH: President Karzai believes that by promoting anti foreigner, anti-American feelings, he might find some constituency in parts of the country. … And this has started with one of the events and now it became a trend and now it has become a policy. In between, who misses the opportunities? The people of Afghanistan.
ThinkProgress also asked Abdullah if he thinks Karzai deliberately fueled Jones’ Quran burning stunt. “It was very obvious,” he said:
ABDULLAH: It was very obvious. It was very obvious and it is what I mentioned earlier it started one of a blame game yes? And then a trend and then a policy. [...]
TP: Do you think that he did it on purpose?
ABDULLAH: He did it, of course.
When asked if Karzai benefits in any way politically from making an issue of Jones’s Quran burning, Abdullah replied, “I don’t think it helps him but nevertheless it damages the situation.” Listen to the entire interview in two parts here:
Transcript: Read more