March 7th, 2010
10:24 PM ET

Can Karzai deliver in Marjah?

The small windows of the U.S. military aircraft give only fleeting views of the ground below. But it’s spectacular. A soaring, snow-capped mountain range.

Behind me the man who officially leads this country has his eyes closed. He might be sleeping. No, he’s not. He’s just caught my cameraman trying to get a shot of him. And he’s not happy about it.

President Hamid Karzai is referred to as “The Mayor of Kabul” by those who say his government has little influence outside the capital. Today’s journey is an attempt to expand that influence. He’s going to Marjah for the first time in his life.

The Afghan president swoops in on a marine helicopter and is greeted warmly by hundreds of men. There are no women.

This desolate town in Helmand province is now world famous because it was recently the focus of efforts to drive the Taliban out of this region as part of Operation Moshtarak. The president is here to persuade the local population that military forces will now hold this ground and his government will start delivering services.

Any services would help. Marjah is a shadow of a town. It’s difficult to describe how little there is here.

The local elders forcefully tell Hamid Karzai they need more of everything. They need all the basics: roads, schools, hospitals and honest police. They tell him they have been oppressed by the Taliban and abandoned by Kabul. He agrees and promises to help.

So now what? It only took weeks to drive back the Taliban. But building communities that can resist them in the future will take much longer. The people of Marjah know just how hard that’s going to be and President Karzai learned today not all of them believe it’s even possible.

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Bhatti

    Even if H. Karzai wants something to do in Marjah, he will fail because he lacks a good team to follow him. I wish he concentrates on genuine development work in Marjah and Kandahar.

    April 27, 2010 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. risab

    Go Karzai go we are proud of you. Your the number 1 corrupt family in the world. America has created the most corrupt government in face of the world like Karzai's. sometime it comes in my mind why every empire wants to conquer Afghanistan with guns and soldiers i am sure they will not succeed, the best way is to conquer it is to build it.

    April 18, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. Pancha Chandra

    President Karzai will have to prove his democratic credentials. His deeds have not matched his promises. That is the reason the Obama Administration is treading very carefully. Having a reliable partner in Afghanistan is crucial in dislodging the Taliban and ridding the region of a major terrorist menace. If Karzai is not fully on board, then it would be necessary to find others who are more sincere and committed. The future of Afghanistan cannot depend on the whims and fancies of one man!

    April 17, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Guest

    I am afghan and I hope our government learn something from US administration such as general Mc Crystal, Hope this war ends without more human costs.

    April 7, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Truth Man

    Karzai is about as sorry an excuse for a human being as can be found anywhere. It is really hard to find someone who is more corrupt or inneffective as a leader. However, as a zionist lackey he is perfect. He is perfect because he is completely devoid of any shred of integrity or self respect. He is perfect because what motivates him is clear enough for even a blind man to see, greed and power.

    Karzai is what I like to call the "ANTI LEADER". Whereas leaders are supposed to sacrafice their time, wealth and sometimes very life for the well being of those that they are supposed to lead, an anti leader does the exact opposite.

    Karzai is not alone however, we can add him to the ranks of Bush, King Hussein of Jordan, President Mubarek of Egypt, the leadership of Algeria, The leadership of 99% of the countries in the middle east with the exceptions of Iran and Hizbollah.

    March 10, 2010 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. daAfghan

    Thank You General McCrystal and all the NATO troops. We will never forget your support and sacrifice at this time where enemey, Al Qaeda, taliban and pakies are killing our children. YOU ARE OUR TRUE FRIEND and WE ARE PROUD OF YOU.

    March 10, 2010 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  7. da Afghan

    We are PROUD of you Karzai. Keep up the great work.

    March 10, 2010 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  8. Aliph

    The problem in my opinion is that USA is betting on wrong horses. India, Karzai and Northern Alliance. All three must be removed from Afghanistan.

    1. India doesnt even border Afghanistan! She is only there to create trouble for Pakistan by reviving the insurgency in Balochistan so that Pakistan dont utter the K for Kashmir word.

    2. Northern Alliance people only add up about 10% of the literally Pushtun dominated Afghanistan.

    3. Karzai is a thief at a right place and on a right time to loot whatever he can in the name of Afghanistan.

    The only country that helped USA win in Afghanistan against the Soviets during the 80s and now is Pakistan.

    So to win, USA needs to do 2 things:

    1. USA seriously needs to engage Pakistan by taking her concerns and reservations seriously. and she can start off with by closing the tap on the three stooges: India, Karzai and Northern Alliance.


    2. USA needs to make Marjah an example for whole of Afghanistan.

    The day economical and infrastructure promises made before, during and after the capture of Marjah from Taleban successfully transforms into reality, the whole Afghanistan will line up on the side of US.

    These two are the keys to win in Afghanistan. Nothing less will do.

    March 9, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Trebla

    Notice Karzai hardly leave Kubul for the country side without US forces. If he went with the Afgan army he would be dead in a minute.

    March 9, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Emile Zola

    Afghanistan is a quicksand where empires go to die. We should be more interested with the Herculean problems we have, to waste manpower, resources, and time for a failed and corrupt to the core country. Just imagine how much good that money we are wasting in the two wars would benefit if we were a true democracy. I don't see or read in our Constitution where the U.S. has to be the police of the world, when and while America is burning. One thing is to wage war to defend America, but to bring or spread democracy to other nations doesn't make much sense. I'll suggest, but it will fall in deaf ears, to bring the troops home, send civilians to help Afghanistan and Iraq with their infrastructure and, not only the world would be a better place to be, but also we could feel good again. Too many innocent civilians are paying with their lives for the mistakes of others and that is not America.

    March 9, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Leo D

    Let Karzai act like a leader for now as soon as the people gain a little more confidence they'll do away with him and vote Abdullah in like they did the first time.

    March 9, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Michael

    Is this article written by a journalism student handing in his first assignment? Save the fluff and just write the facts.

    March 9, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. citizenUSA

    Someone's not pulling the right strings on this puppet.

    March 9, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Daniel

    For Wayne,I couldn't have stated it better myself.Thank you for your input.

    March 9, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  15. Wayne

    Mr.Gerber have you ever heard the term,"Birds of a feather"? It is typical and I am not referring to just this administration. I am referring to the entire US government. Dem. Rep. or indipendent. They are all self serving. Every time they put "their man" in power in power in one of these countries, that man and his men live the high life while their cruntries go to hell in a bread basket. That by the way is the same bread basket that the normal, every day US citizen is in today. The days of " OF the people, by the people, for the people" are long since gone.

    March 9, 2010 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  16. Brian from Chicago

    Tom Gerber: it was the president of Azerbijan who recently bought real estate in Dubai. Either (1) you're aware of something that CNN has not reported, (2) you're getting your information confused, or (3) you're hurling accusations recklessly like our good friend Daniel here.

    Daniel: I recognized your stock rant before I read your name. Do you ever feel like contributing solutions, or will you just copy and paste the same thing for every article?

    March 9, 2010 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  17. Jester

    his friend Musharaf has left the office, I wonder when will he leave

    March 8, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Bertina

    I thought it was pretty well known that Karzai was not considered to be an honest leader. How did he get reelected? How was this allowed? More politics again? This is really sickening. What's the pay off here? Our young people are being killed over there for who and what?

    March 8, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  19. IN

    US army is just one of the tribal militias in Afghanistan. US made its army Karzai's private militia. What a lucky, powerful and corrupted guy!

    March 8, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Daniel

    Soon,I suppose,Hamid Karzai along with the townleaders of Marjah will start to chant in unison "Allah Akbar,but the West with all it's wealth,Akbar-er" and maybe just put all their faith into NATO and the West.In the meantime,the United States will spend itself out of existance bankrupting itself both morally and economically on this dispicable war.

    March 8, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Tom Gerber

    There is no doubt that Karzai and his administraton are corrupt. He has a mansion wiating for him in Dubai. Too many U.S. administrations have sponsored foul people like Karzai-and use our money to do it. No wonder we have such a huge deficit.

    March 8, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Insane1

    people of Murjah, people of afghanistan, US, NATO countries rely on this guy to take care of corruption? This guy is a joke

    March 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  23. TJ

    Why go to Marjah? Because, Afghanistan is going to be won on popular opinion. For the past several years the Taliban and AQ have won the war of information in the media. Until we reverse that and get the people to believe that we and the Afghan government really want to help it's pointless.

    I like the idea of going, and clearing a town of major taliban fighters then sending Karzai in to talk to the people. He needs to be more visible, let's remember the types of technology the average citizen has over there.

    Hopefully, we can continue to rid the country of these factions sytematically although I realize total reconciliation is impossible.

    March 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  24. william scott

    Karzai must go. He was an acceptable interim leader but has now lost his legitimacy among most of the Afghans. He has tolerated corrupt officials and warlords too long.

    March 8, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  25. cassandra

    we need to get out of Afghanistan and "Chernoblize" the off tribal leaders and keep remote control...a lot cheaper than nation building in the stone age...the real question is who is interested in keeping the US military in the region....follow the money...the military industrial complex is alive and well...

    March 8, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  26. hampster

    Karzai has no problem as he has mega millions stached and a plane ready to flee the country if things take a turn for the worst. America always seems to back these corrupt leaders who flee whan the population rebels.

    March 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  27. andrew lubin

    what'd Karzai spend, an hour in Marjah? Let the Marines handle it, like they did last year in Nawa, and keep Karzai in Kabul where he can do minimal harm.

    March 7, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |