November 16th, 2010
02:24 PM ET

Afghan official tries to smooth tensions created by Karzai comments

An Afghan government official worked Tuesday to publicly smooth over tensions created when President Hamid Karzai spoke extensively about reducing U.S. military operations and the number of American forces in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, Karzai spokesman Wahid Omer acknowledged an effort to ease tensions following a Karzai interview published Sunday in The Washington Post.

The effort came after Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the United States' military operation in Afghanistan, personally warned Afghan officials over the weekend that the U.S.-Afghan partnership could be "untenable" if Karzai wants U.S. troops out of Afghanistan prematurely.

A senior coalition military official confirmed details of what Petraeus said, but asked not to be identified so he could speak more candidly.

Petraeus made his statements Sunday in a meeting with Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan official in charge of planning the efforts to handle transition from coalition to Afghan control. A planned Sunday meeting with Karzai was rescheduled, but officials insisted it was not canceled due to the tensions.

After reading the Post article, Petraeus said he felt the views expressed by Karzai "makes it untenable for us to have a partnership," the senior coalition military official told CNN.

Petraeus has been "reassured" by Karzai and others that no rift with the United States exists, the official said.

But as the top commander, Petraeus clearly was laying down a marker. He "wanted to ensure the Afghan government understood he takes these issues very seriously," the official said. Petraeus "was reassured by President Karzai that he is fully supportive of the joint strategy, that we all share the desire for Afghan forces to take the lead, and that we've worked hard together to address all the issues over which President Karzai raised concerns and will continue to do so."

Omer said officials agreed to move on.

"Yes, there was a reaction to the Washington Post headline, but after I showed them [American and NATO officials] the full text [of the interview] and underlined a few things they understood," Omer said Tuesday. "We all said, 'let's forget it.'"

At the end of this week, Petraeus will brief a NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, on his plans for turning security control over to Afghans by 2014 - a goal that was agreed upon long ago.

But Karzai is under increasing pressure from within his own government to more quickly demonstrate independence from the United States and distance himself from controversial military night raids and the increasing number attacks conducted by coalition forces.

For his part, Petraeus has made clear he plans to continue the stepped-up attacks, which he feels are paying off in reducing the strength and capability of the Taliban. The coalition calculates there has been a sixfold increase in activities by special operations forces in the last 18 months, mostly directed against insurgents.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also defended the tactics.

"We believe that the use of intelligence-driven precision operations against high-value insurgents and their networks is a key component of our comprehensive civil-military operations," Clinton told journalists on Monday.

"These operations are conducted in full partnership with the government of Afghanistan," she said. "They include Afghan forces on each operation. There is no question they are having a significant impact on the insurgent leadership and the networks they operate."

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Filed under: Karzai • Petraeus
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Dindy.....

    You may know theology..but you dont have a spiritual tie with God !!

    November 18, 2010 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  2. Craig Michael

    Unless I'm missing some vital information I believe that someone needs to inform the advisors incharge of this last ditch effort to extinguish the Taliban THAT they, the Taliban, are not a stagnant and ungrowing organization. To effecitively and permanently remove them from the picture would take a level of oraganization that are simply unachievable. Karzai knows this, to be sure, and is playing unavoidably in that court. No doubt he expects the future of Afghanistan to have a Taliban. Petraeus should be equally aware. But then that is not area, is it? It is the political future, not the securitization of Afghanistan that must be fully addressed..right now. Either way, the current efforts, both militarily and politically, will leave, at best, the same regional vacuum as was there before.

    November 17, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • InfOfcr

      I dont particularly like nor agree with all you have to say, but your assessment of the Taliban is right on. not stagnant and not gonna go down easily. I would recommend "The Spider and the Starfish" to you if you havent read it.

      November 18, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • BANGASH

      CRAIG MICHAEL FOR YOU INFORMATION MULLAH UMAR AND KARZAI HAD A DEAL FOR PEACEFUL SURRENDER IN EXCHANGE FOR SAFETY AND SECURITY IN FUTURE SET UP UNDER KARZAI, WHICH THE THEN SECRETARY DEFENSE DONALDS RUMSFIELD REJECTED AS HE KNEW THAT BY ISOLATING ALQAIDA US WILL LOOSE JUSTIFICATION FOR LONG STAY AS 500/100 ALQAIDA ACTIVISTS MAY NOT HAVE SURVIVED WITH OUT TALIBAN, EVEN FOR MONTHS IN AFGHANISTAN AND THEN AMERICA WOULD HAVE TO PACK UP. IF YOU VISITED A WEB johnperkins.org YOU WILL KNOW HOW USA PLAYED GREAT GAME ON AFGHAN SOIL. THIS WILL MAKE YOU UNDERSTAND THOSE, OPPOSING US THESE INTENTIONS IN THIS REGION AND THEN WILL BE EASY TO DRAW THE CONCLUSION THAT EVERY NATION OF THE WORLD HAS A LEGITIMATE RIGHT OF RESISTANCE AGAINST FOREIGN AGGRESSORS. WITH THIS BACKGROUND WE IN THIS REGION CONSIDER OSAMA AND OBAMA AS TWO FACES OF SAME COIN AS SAME TWO FORCES HAVE BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE THREE DECADES LONG BLOODSHED IN THIS REGION THEREFORE FOR US BOTH ARE OUR KILLERS. SO CRAIG THINK ON THIS SIDE OF THE STORY, AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS, AND THEN SEE REAL Faces of these so called champions of democracy and human rights.

      November 19, 2010 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  3. BANGASH

    This is clear example of US bad luck when ignore the most sincere advice of her own appointed President of Afghanistan Mr Hamid Karzai. David Petraeus, representing MIC, warning to Karzai mainly aimed at stopping his meddling in business affairs. What Karzai has been suggesting is entirely in the interest of American nation. This is his attempt to prove his loyalty and sincerity to USA which he bestly understands being a son of Afghan soil but for General David the interests of MIC are more supreme then America. Secretary Clinton’s speaking in MIC language is if US national decision then it is clear axing of own foots and Afghans will have the honor to burry second super power in less then half a century. USA has no other way except return to their true national values i.e Universal Justice, Equality and fraternity as more then half a century deviation of these national ideals has faced, today, USA with the question of survival as a super power in the world. So choice is your but Afghans will decide at last.

    November 17, 2010 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Lafayette, IN

      Hey dummy without America's help the Soviet Union would still have a puppet in power in Afghanistan! And another thing, Islamic extremism and terrorism will see it's end in hell with the help of America and it's allies in the war on terrorism!

      November 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan in Lafayette, IN

        Yes with the faith in Jesus, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit we surely will defeat Islamic extremism along with their acts of terrorism(murderous,insanely satanic people or animals I should say)!!!

        November 17, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
      • BANGASH

        DAN calling me dummy is easy to escape of reality. It would have been better if you had rejected my point with facts not emotions. I know USA have many friends like you and this is main reason that today after Vietnam USA is once again in a quagmire and that history is once again being repeated on Afghan soil. DAN I am observing the situation on the war front with my own eyes therefore see which non of you can imagine and just follow the media which you know is in the hands of those associated with MIC who have always deceived American public opinion. So my words can be harsh as my house is on fire in your imposed wars in this region but remember I am a humanist and condemn inhuman actions of any one even USA.

        November 19, 2010 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. Onesmallvoice

    What do you think that this Wahid Omer is going to do? He knows which side his bread is buttered on!

    November 16, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bledsoe

      Simpleton.

      November 21, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |