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Kandahar in the clutches of Karzai, NATO and the Taliban

By: Mohammad Daud Dadras
محمد داود دادرس
Sunday 16 May 2010

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According to the reports NATO forces are posed to launch large-scale military operations in order to wipe out terrorists from the key province, Kandahar. For this purpose detachments of special US troops have been mobilized around Kandahar. As a prelude to wide military operations, small detachments of special troops have been formed in order to bring down the number of casualties and possible risks of road-side bombs which may hinder the advance of these troops.

The New York Times recently reported that a couple of weeks before military operations in Kandahar small detachments composed of US Special Force have embarked upon cleansing Kandahar City from the Taliban forces.

But military operations in Kandahar are not only faced with challenges such as road-side bombs, possible intensive resistance by the Taliban to foreign and Afghan forces, or possible increase in suicidal attacks, but the Kabul Government and especially president Karzai is very sensitive to these operations as well.

With the fast approaching deadline (June) for the above operations, expectations are high. From the date of announcement of military operations in Kandahar, Karzai traveled to the area, where in the presence of Gen. Mc Cristal, general commander of NATO troops, he promised the residents of Kandahar that without their consent no military operations would be launched there. This was a serious direct message from Karzai to NATO authorities and indirectly to the US that they should reach a hundred per cent agreement with him concerning launching the Kandahar operations and at the same time stir public opinion against them.

Concurrent with the announcement of launching military operations by small detachments of the special forces around Kandahar, the Afghan government also called a meeting chaired by Hamid Karzai, and immediately after that the Western media quoting high-ranking government officials of Afghanistan without mentioning their names, that the Kandahar operations were subject to providing guarantees for the protection of the civilian lives, who have given them a serious warning for the lake of attention of their part.

President Karzai, recently completing his visit to America does not want to raise his explicit and serious objection of the Kandahar operations, but it is likely that after his US visit, he may raise his explicit objection to these vital operations.

As the birth place of president Karzai, abode of the Taliban and the main pivot of West’s militarism in southern Afghanistan, all three sides are showing their sensitivity towards Kandahar.

The Taliban, as they claim, want to show that the well-equipped NATO is not capable to break their spiritual morale; and NATO would spare no effort to oust the Taliban from Kandahar and strike their ranks in order to assure the people of the southern Afghanistan that Taliban could never come into power by force. But the stand taken by president Karzai is understandable to some extent and is different.

Kandahar is very important for Karzai; firstly, he was born there and secondly, Kandahar is the axis of his power, as well as for his fragile relations in the south. For this reason, Mr. Karzai has time and again showed his disagreement with the dismissal of his brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, from his powerful position in this province, which is one of the main reason for his criticism of the West.

According to reports published prior to Obama’s visit to Kabul, Robert Gates addressing the US Senate seriously criticized president Karzai’s brother for creating obstructions for NATO’s military operations and for his totalitarianism and told that the Taliban were roaming free and without obstruction.

It seems that military operations in Kandahar will face multi-faceted challenges in the coming days, which have shrouded the beginning and success of these operations. Kandahar will be a bone of contention in the near future for all three sides – Karzai, NATO and the Taliban - which is certain to undo the effectiveness of the contemplated measures towards ensuring peace and ousting the Taliban from the area.

By: Mohammad Daud Dadras

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