Afghan President Hamid Karzai signaled his defiance of the United States in his final address before the country’s parliament Saturday, claiming U.S. troops are not needed in Afghanistan as his military is ready to take over entirely.
Karzai also reiterated that he would not sign a security agreement with the United States that would allow American soldiers to stay in Afghanistan to help train and mentor Afghan troops and hunt down al-Qaeda, the Associated Press reports. The outgoing president has come under heavy pressure from the United States and other nations, as well as a council of notable Afghanis, to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement.
“I want to say to all those foreign countries who maybe out of habit or because they want to interfere, that they should not interfere,” said Karzai on Saturday.
Karzai has been president of his embattled country since December 2001, and last won a presidential election in 2009. He has increasingly been at odds with the United States, opposing U.S. military operations against the Taliban even as it ramped up attacks and civilian killings in recent months.
His refusal to sign a security agreement with the United States may be futile, however, as all 10 candidates seeking the presidency in April 5 elections have said they will sign the agreement.