Karzai Criticizes Withdrawal Timeline

Afghan President Hamid Karzai criticized U.S. plans to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan next year, telling a visiting American congressional delegation Thursday that the decision has boosted the Taliban’s morale. Karzai told Centcom commander General James Mattis that Afghanistan’s insurgents could not be defeated unless their sanctuaries across the border were destroyed, a reference to Pakistan. The Afghan president’s words are similar to those of President Obama’s American critics, who say militants will just wait for the U.S. to leave and then make a real push to regain control of the country. A surge of troops in Afghanistan, combined with new offensives into Taliban strongholds, has led to increased violence—especially because insurgents are now more frequently targeting civilians.