After the repatriation in caskets of 157 Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, and the investment of taxpayer millions, it would be nice to know for sure whose side Afghan President Hamid Karzai is on.

But that has never been certain.

International forces in Afghanistan, including Canadian troops who remain as trainers, might have expected Karzai to temper his rhetoric following the killing of 16 innocent civilians, including children, in southern Afghanistan .

“This is an assassination,” he said. “This is an intentional killing of innocent civilians, and cannot be forgiven.”

It was much the same a month ago when, despite apologies from U.S. President Barack Obama that the burning of the Quran was unintentional, Karzai fanned the flames of outraged Afghans by refusing to accept that explanation and asking for calm among his people.

As a result, the burning of those copies of the Quran sparked weeks of riots and spontaneous violence that left approximately 30 Afghans dead, and six U.S. servicemen killed by their fellow Afghan soldiers.

It is another black eye for Uncle Sam. But it also helps to know who your friends are, especially in perpetually war-torn places like Afghanistan.

Ottawa Sun (March 15)