June 4th, 2010
01:15 PM ET

Karzai faces credibility balancing act after peace jirga

KABUL, Afghanistan — When he walked in to the peace jirga tent, President Karzai took up his place in the front row – in a very comfortable looking arm chair. To his left and right, Afghanistan's elder statesmen. Most had long white beards; a good handful were former warlords.

Karzai had come to hear what the 1,600 delegates he'd invited were recommending he do to make peace with the Taliban. He'd had a lukewarm reception when he inaugurated the event three days earlier.

It was, however, not as frosty as the reception the Taliban gave him. A serenade of rockets and gunfire greeted his opening speech. One rocket landed just 200 meters away.

But if there is to be a place where the United States and the international community can put some hopes of getting their troops out of Afghanistan any time soon, this had to be it.

Why? Because one thing all sides in Afghanistan (NATO commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Karzai and the Taliban) agree on is that the war here cannot be won by fighting alone.

To that end, focusing on how to get the Taliban into talks has to be seen as a step in the right direction. Just how much of a step is still not clear.

At his much delayed peace jirga, Karzai had already faced criticism that it was unrepresentative. No sooner had the deputy chairman read out the conclusions, there were calls that the three days of debate were being unfairly presented.

Such is going to be the path to peace in the country.

But what is the government presenting as the thoughts from the 1,600 tribal and civil leaders and former warlords Karzai invited to attend? In short, nothing that will greatly upset or surprise the international community and to that end may make it a very slow path to peace.

There is no mention of a key Taliban demand that NATO troops leave Afghanistan, something Karzai told the delegates at the outset was not an option.

More clarification and more issues raised by delegates may yet be made public. For now some of the top 16 recommendations are:

– Taliban to be removed from international blacklists.
– Taliban to be released from jails, both Afghan and international.
– Taliban to distance themselves from al Qaeda.
– End NATO house searches and bombing.
– Taliban to end their attacks.
– Government to establish a framework for negotiations with the Taliban.
– A peace council to be formed drawing in provincial leaders.
– For all sides to remove conditions that could harm the peace process.

As the jirga is non-binding, the government can cherry pick what it wants. A fair bet, however, is that the recommendations announced are those Karzai wants to move forward with.

If calls from delegates grow, saying that some of the more radical suggestions like moving international forces to the borders, or putting them under Afghan government control have not been heeded, then the jirga may be a step back - harming Karzai’s credibility.

After the debacle of last year’s deeply flawed presidential elections, the Afghan leader wanted the jirga to bolster his political standing. So balancing the demands of the delegates and the expectations of the international community is critical for him.

And that’s everyone’s dilemma, not just Karzai’s; it's the international community’s, too. Without credibility, Karzai can hardly lead a peace initiative, or at the very least expect the Taliban to get real about ending the fight.

So without listening to his delegates - and he invited a largely loyal and moderate cross section of the country - he can’t expect to build that credibility. But, if he goes along with hard line requests he’ll struggle for international support. And if he doesn’t go along with those far-reaching requests, he’s unlikely to convince the Taliban that now is the time to make peace.

Like it or not, Karzai’s fate is deeply tied to the international communities right now. Many diplomats in this city have had to swallow their misgivings about him and, while privately, they are very guarded in their expectations, at the jirga they are publicly supporting it.

Quite simply, it is the best option in play for getting the vast majority of their troops back home and soon.

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. acambJubvom

    Hey guys.. a few words about myself,.. I'm usually one of those ignorant folks that would browse through the forums, seek out
    Necessary information and leave 🙂 Due to some recent events in my life I came to a conclusion and had decided to change
    this ugly aspect about myself and begin contributing as well, or may be at least saying thank you once in a while to those that continually contribute here.


    October 27, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. acambJubvom

    I'm shocked......You can't even have a normal conversation on forums these days because of heavily
    injected spam!!! Can the moderators use some sort of filters? Even the social netowks are compressed
    by spam! We need to do something about this!

    October 27, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. SealUDTFFH334

    Dear Karzai,

    If you're not part of the solution.......

    June 9, 2010 at 2:46 am | Report abuse |
  4. Kandahar

    To Iraq Paramedic,
    IF Karzai isnt a good pick, failure is the best pick to pick.

    June 8, 2010 at 6:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. Kandahar

    Karzai is wining the great support of the nation. He is the real player of the game. Mr. Karzai is doing his best to save Afghanistan.

    June 8, 2010 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mo

    I personally feel that the situation in Afghanistan is very controversial and sensitive. I feel that what needs to be done in order to restore stability in the country and continue to move forward and not return to the ways of the Taliban would be to reform the current and corrupt government in Afghanistan that was placed into power by the international world. The reason why there is so much hostility and lack of willingness to cooperate to resolve the issue was because of the fact that the current government in Afghanistan does not recognize that the Pashtun people are the majority of the country. The reason why there is this discrepancy is because Pashtun individuals are very family proud and believe that if the women of their family come out to vote and become identified, their innocence and family pride might be compromised. Since their is not an accurate number of the Pashtun population in the country, the Pashtun people are out numbered in presence within the Afghan government. If the country and government would recognize this issue and work to include more Pashtuns into the current government, it would settle tensions in the country. It is true that there is a large presence of Pashtuns in the Taliban regime, but it is because they feel that their country has been stolen from them, and therefore they join the Taliban to try and reclaim their country. And since the international and coalition forces established the current government in Afghanistan, many Pashtun Afghans feel that their land has been stolen from outsiders, which i feel has a large contribution into the violence in the country.

    June 7, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Zumabum

    From the way the war is being covered, you would hardly no one was going on if it weren't for the 33 BILLION DOLLARS that just got sent there. News Flash Will CNN Wake UP Before Its Too Late.

    June 6, 2010 at 3:56 am | Report abuse |
  8. Iraq Paramedic

    Well I don't know who picked Karzai ( Bush, Tenet, Cheney, C.I.A. operative, ? ) but it was a bad pick. We as the leading coalition force needs to eat a little crow & fire his corrupt, greedy little two faced a$$ & get someone who actually cares about the people & the country & trying to move forward into some type of civilized, human rights conscience country. And as for the suggestions of the council, it sounds like most of the trible elders where worried about their own safety or their families safety, i.e. the Taliban are probably threating them to say those things.
    May GOD bless & keep us all !!!!!!!!!

    June 5, 2010 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. In Kabul

    This is th efirst step in the right direction. President Karzai now has to act on the recommendations. The Afghan National Security Forces did an amazing job securing the Jirga. To learn more about their training go to: ( http://www.NTM-A.com )

    June 5, 2010 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. Smith in Oregon

    Who is the corrupt Karzai Clan trying to fool? The Taliban certainly is not going to allow the Karzai Clan's continued Opium-Heroin business to thrive. What the Karzai Clan has been accused of doing even before the CIA handpicked the elder Karzai to become the President of Afghanistan, would result in the death penalty in all Islamic ruled country's. Even Karzai's own brother refers to him as the Taliban's banker and major money source during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.
    The control of Marjah is falling apart everyday now, the gains by the American soldiers lives disappearing and being replaced once again by the Taliban. General McChyrstal's shake and bake cookie cutter strategy has moved on to Kandhar, while it is obvious the strategy that is a clone of that used in Marjah is deeply flawed.

    June 5, 2010 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. PatrickUSA

    We need to stay in Afghanistan until the job is done, like we did in Korea. That government was corrupt and the military demoralized and beaten. Now it is a strong democracy with a well trained military. Our plan to leave next year has caused Karzai, and the Pakistani's, to plan ahead which means finding some accomodation with the Taliban. If we make clear to all parties that we are here to stay, then we can expect Afghanistand and Pakistan to stop tolerating and smoozing with the Taliban and set about getting rid of them, and for the Taliban to do some serious thinking about how much they want to continue this fight. The U.S. has a bad history of getting countries and groups to stand up and fight our enemies, then changing our minds, cutting our losses, and running, leaving them to whatever end they can work out for themselves (Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq and Kurdistan after Kuwait). United States citizens think it is O.K. to whip up a fight over something that is important to us, then when the going gets tough to abandon those that we have persuaded to join us. Now we are repeating that behavior and expecting the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan to press the fight while we make our plans to leave. They may be ignorant, but they are not stupid. As for Karzai, he is a sleezebag, but he's our sleezebag. He has spent his life jumping from one group to another, each time coming out on the winning side. If we want him to get tough, the first thing we need to do is let him know that we are here to stay and to win.

    June 4, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ShareFacts

    I would recommend everyone to read an article by Eric Margolis,


    June 4, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ShareFacts

    I recalled saying by Eric Margolis,

    Quote= "Good presidents, like good generals, know when to retreat"

    June 4, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. OMMS

    Above mentioned top 16 recommendations by the JIRGA will not be accepted by Taliban because it does not include what they want,

    e.g: All International forces out of Afghanistan, until then their will be no peace.

    Its funny even a layman knows what they want, but this JIRGA forgot to discuss that..

    June 4, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dan in Lafayette,IN

    Your right Rick, the Taliban think that they are God's warriors to bring morality back to the world, but morality lies within ones soul and the Taliban have no morals! They terrorize and kill people just to regain power and control over the people! They are the worse sinners on earth and they will be judged accordingly!

    June 4, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Abdur

      Dan in lafayette, I m not advocating Taliban but the world know the morality of USA in the history. Not too far in the history, but still we can see in Iraq and many other countries.The world know how big lair the US is and their policies are even same.There are countless number of innocent people has been killed by the US army troops across the world, starting from Hiroshima. Civilian are always a soft target for the same. Kindly find out the Data

      June 7, 2010 at 5:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Mo

      I think that your interpretation of the Taliban is accurate, but it is also inaccurate. The Taliban do feel that they are warriors of God, and I too believe they are extremists and sinners, but their ideology is based on the idea that they are carrying out the word of God. The ideology of the Taliban is influenced by the Qur'an and is considered to be Shari'a which is Islamic law. The only difference between the mainstream Muslim's ideology and the ideology of the Taliban, is in their interpretation of the Qur'anic sayings. The Taliban have taken the sayings of God from the Qur'an and have made variations to it making it more extreme in order to make sure that Afghanistan remains an Islamic country. I am in no way supporting the radical and extreme group, but I did want to clarify that they are not just trying to terrorize and kill people just to gain power, but that they feel it is important to eliminate western ideology so that people do not become corrupted in religious values and beliefs.

      June 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  16. ShareFacts

    No matter we like it OR not, If we want to end this conflict in Afghanistan, we have to get help from Pakistan, so they can force Afghan Taliban to get on with negotiations with USA.

    We have already tried alone for 9 years alone and its not working..

    We will have to accept the fact that Pakistan Army / ISI will never let India get into any role in Afghanistan..because they do not want to get encircled by india from both sides..

    As soon as we realize above, we can we out of this mess in Afghanistan..

    June 4, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mo

      Pakistan is not the answer to the Taliban problem in Afghanistan. Many do not know that the Taliban originated in Pakistan and is widely composed of Pakistani's. The only way that there will be improvement is if the international forces tackle the Taliban in Pakistan where they have their stronghold.

      June 7, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Rick McDaniel

    No one can make peace with the Taliban. They are not going to accept any way, but THEIR way!

    June 4, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |