Afghan President Hamid Karzai had heard enough.
For more than an hour, Gen. David H. Petraeus
, U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry
and other top Western officials in Kabul urged Karzai to delay implementing a ban on private security firms. Reconstruction projects worth billions of dollars would have to be shuttered, they maintained, if foreign guards were evicted.
Sitting at the head of a glass-topped, U-shaped table in his conference room, Karzai refused to budge, according to two people with direct knowledge of the late October meeting. He insisted that Afghan police and soldiers could protect the reconstruction workers, and he dismissed pleas for a delay.
As he spoke, he grew agitated, then enraged. He told them that he now has three "main enemies" - the Taliban, the United States and the international community.
"If I had to choose sides today, I'd choose the Taliban," he fumed.