April 5th, 2010
08:45 AM ET

Karzai seeks tribal support for military operation

Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with tribal leaders Sunday in the violence-plagued Kandahar province to shore up support for an impending military offensive. He promised to hold back until he had their backing.

"We will not conduct the operations in Kandahar until you say we can," Karzai told about 1,000 tribal leaders at a shura, or conference, at the governor's compound in the southern province.

Karzai, accompanied by the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, said he will see that similar gatherings are held throughout the region to gauge the opinion of the people.

"I'll tell you what is in my heart, and you need to share what is in your heart," Karzai told the tribal leaders. Kandahar is the home of Karzai's tribe and ancestors.

U.S. and NATO troops are planning a massive military offensive to wrest control of the region from Taliban militants.

Most of the gathered leaders were apprehensive about the operation. They worried that the military push was planned during harvest.

The Taliban were believed to be preparing their own operation, because they have a heads-up.

Haji Agha Lala, a tribal leader, said those at the gathering could not speak frankly because the threat of the Taliban was ever-present.

Another tribal leader told CNN that Kandahar "has one government during the day, [and] another takes control over the night," referring to the Taliban.

Those at the conference said their problem wasn't just with the Taliban, but with Afghan security forces, national police and the Afghan army, who don't make them feel safe.

Some say they prefer to negotiate with the Taliban rather than engage them in an offensive.

Others lamented the lack of security and basic services.

"Every tribe wants to protect their own thief," Karzai said. "We need to stop doing that so that we can fix the country."

In a speech last week that grabbed much attention, Karzai blamed the international community for the accusations of fraud in the vote that saw him re-elected.

"In today's speech, I am pointing that finger at myself," Karzai said, implying that the government needs to hear the concerns of the people.

Asked about Karzai's recent remarks, McChrystal said, "I spend most of my time thinking not about what people say but what they do, and my partnership with President Karzai has been something I've been pleased with and something I've relied on as we've moved forward in operations, and that's reflected in his people and his government that I've worked with."

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Filed under: Kandahar • Karzai
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Richard

    karzai's a mess.

    the guy seems to have little control over the country. what control he does have he guards zealously to enrich himself and his cronies, and ensure his survival in a post-American afghanistan. he doesn't wanna be another najibullah and have his head dragged through the streets of kabul.

    the disconnects that exist between our goals and those of his are real and pose a serious impediment to the completion of our mission.

    i'm a liberal democrat and i opposed the war in iraq. bush and his administration really messed up on that one.

    but afghanistan's a different matter, the taliban and al-qaida attacked us ... no debate here. and it's up to us Americans to keep up the fight to not only kick them out of afghanistan, but to really turn up the heat against their benefactors whoever and wherever they may be.

    April 7, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ALEX Cranmer

    great point!

    April 7, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. Nathanael [desert voice]

    "My partnership with President Karzai has been something I've been pleased with and something I've relied on as we've moved forward in operations, and that's reflected in his people and his government that I've worked with." I wonder how Atia Abawi explains gen. Chrystal's confidence in President Karzai? Didn't President Karzai recently say that "there will be no offensive [by Gen. Chrystal], until he says so"? This would indicate that Gen. Chrystal follows orders of President Karzai, rather than President Obama? Which is which?

    April 7, 2010 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  4. ALEX Cranmer

    im in 11th grade, in a small little town in pa. I thought that everything in iraq and afganastsan was doing fine, apparently im mistaken.It seems as though karzai is a leader that is trying to please everyone, including the taliban, but he can't leaders are supposed to take action and lead their country to safely out of wars. It seems as though he is dragging them out.

    what i think karzai should do is TELL, not ask, the tribal leaders what is happening w/out giving away too much information. The Afgan people need a strong leader to take action and get them out of this situation fast, before we have anymore casualties!

    April 7, 2010 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. A Soldier

    I am about to be involved with this operation in Kandahar. I work with the Afghan Police and are currently in the Marjah area. Karzai is corrupt and I hope now everyone is seeing that Obamas magic plan of charming these terrorists is doing nothing at all. My friends are still dying on a regular basis while people in Washington are having cocktail parties and worrying about Obamas NCAA bracket. It is a complete joke and our country is getting taken advantage of by an Afghan, maybe you dont understand but that is sad. Afghan males are the scum of the earth and this entire country should be carpet bombed. Enjoy this post Obama lovers.

    April 7, 2010 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
  6. michael

    Theres no negotiation with the taliban, just let us send in our forces and crush those jihaders like ants and their national security forces can bring peace and make sure they are professional enough and get the locals to fight for their saftey too

    April 6, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. john burgess

    he is proberly starting to worry about his cash crops.

    April 6, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tex

    Its either we attack and secure kandahar or leave Afghanistan.I think president Karzi has an integrity problem.His words tells much about him.Why did the military not do a surprise attack on Kandahar?Announcing the date and time for this offensive keeps the Taliban alert and ready.In my opinion i think operations of this kind should be kept secret.Why would u let yr enemy know when ure about to attack?Is this really a war or just a business,political game going on where some selfish people are using it to make themselves rich while our young heroes keep dying nearly everyday?

    April 6, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Abdul Aziz Mohmand

    Karzai should come in front line for the struggle of peace because we don't want his speech to support the Druglords or warlords. He should suggest to world community for administrative system for rule of law not for his authoritative rule.

    April 6, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Iraq Paramedic

    Daniel, That comment is actually quite calm & a little humurous. Karzi sue the Taliban, good one.
    What worries me is that Gen. McChrystal is actually trusting this guy to converse with these tribal leaders & tell them the truth as well as the General. I do believe the Afgan people want peace but, all the negitive propaganda thrown around about them & the lack of truth about the true outside world given to them & their lack of good education kinda handicaps them. I also believe Karzi is a puppet of his brother & that Hamid is just waiting us out & then him & his brother are going to try to take controll. I hope & pray that the Afgan people elect a good honest person this go round & that the USA & International community stand behind the peoples choice. May GOD be with the citizens of Kandahar thru this ordeal.

    April 6, 2010 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  11. Daniel

    Now we see real evidence that Hamid Karzai is no more no less than a stooge for NATO.If he had any sense of decency,he'd sue the Taliban for peace and try to find a peaceful way out of this dispicable war instead of catering to the West.

    April 5, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |