NATO will become ‘occupying force’ if airstrikes don’t end: Afghan president

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said NATO risked becoming an “occupying force” if ISAF refuses to adhere to his demand that airstrikes on Afghan homes end. From AFP:

His outspoken remarks came days after he issued a “last warning” to foreign forces over civilian casualties following Saturday’s killing of what he said was 14 civilians including women and children in an air strike.

“If after the Afghan government said the aerial bombing of Afghan houses is banned and if it continues, then their presence will change from a war against terrorism to an occupying force,” he told a press conference in Kabul.

“And in that case, Afghan history is witness to how the Afghans deal with occupying forces.”

In the last statement, Karzai is clearly referring to the mujahedeen opposition to the Russian occupation from 1979-1989.

Yesterday, ISAF spokesman Brigadier General Josef Blotz rejected another request by President Karzai to end the controversial night raids that are conducted by combined ISAF and Afghan special operations forces. From Pajhwok Afghan News:

“In order to achieve our goals, we should continue with nighttime raids” ISAF spokesman Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz said at a joint press conference with NATO senior civilian representative’s spokesman, Dominic Medley.

In 85 percent of the operations, not a single shot was fired, he said, adding the raids were conducted jointly with Afghan soldiers. “We respect Karzai’s demand for a stop to ISAF operations, but the nighttime raids should continue to achieve our goals.”

Karzai has made similar threatening statements in the past, while at the same time referring to the Taliban as his “brothers.” In April 2010, he told parliament that he would join the Taliban if the West continued to threaten him over election fraud and the endemic corruption in his regime. From NBC News:

“He said that ‘if I come under foreign pressure, I might join the Taliban’,” said Farooq Marenai, who represents the eastern province of Nangarhar.

“He said rebelling would change to resistance,” Marenai said — apparently suggesting that the militant movement would then be redefined as one of resistance against a foreign occupation rather than a rebellion against an elected government.

While Karzai’s remarks may be dismissed as an attempt to strong-arm NATO while playing local politics, he is providing ample propaganda fodder for the Taliban, while signaling to the Afghan public that the Taliban are a legitimate resistance movement opposing an “occupying force.”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.

Tags: ,


  • Charles says:

    You hear earthquake scientists say that a big earthquake will set off echoing earthquakes for a thousand miles in all directions. It looks like some giant tectonic bell has been rung.
    Karzai sounds more like his counterparts in Pakistan.
    The consequence of administration attempts to separate AQ from the Taliban so as to negotiate a separate peace with the Taliban — would be to legitimize the Taliban.

  • jean says:

    He is prepping his position for when we pull out. No one takes him seriously outside of Kabul. His power base among the Pashtun tribes has eroded since 2002. He will not be able to broker a peace deal with the Taliban. The Tajiks and other Northern Alliance power brokers have not use for him. He will either be dead in the next five years or running a bad restaurant in DC.

  • James says:

    Who’s really occupying you, oh king of kabul (karzai)?
    Is it US or is it the foreign-based (or brainwashed) jihadist scum that came from so far away?
    I have emphasized this before. If there is ever going to be a ‘Sunni Awakening’ (or equivalent) in Afghanistan, it will have to come from the ‘true’ or ‘good’ Taliban (from our perspective) of local and Afghan origin[s] (i.e., but not the foreign-based and/or jihadist-brainwashed segment of such).

  • gerald says:

    Karzai Afghanistan = Vichy France. As soon as the last American helicopter leaves Kabul. Karzai will surrender to the Talibs.

  • Chris says:

    You guys realize this is just his political posturing so that he doesn’t appear to be a puppet of foreigners right?I mean he’s a POLITICIAN for God’s sakes,OF COURSE the man would say something about an airstrike that killed 14 innocent people.Let’s not forget this is the same Karzai who wanted us to have Bagram and Qandahar airbases as permanent American property not too long ago.Indeed,Afghanistan is going to become the new Airstrip 1. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re still there 60 years from now…..

  • Abu Samuel says:

    While this outburst cold be considered posturing on Karzai’s part, it does bring to question what ISAF and the political leadership of contributing nations have done to prepare for Karzai either defecting to the Taliban or simply fleeing the country?
    Other questions also come to mind:
    – What has been done to cultivate or reach out to other potential anti-Taliban leaders such as Abdullah Abdullah or Amrullah Saleh?
    – Would the defection or flight of Karzai lead to a de facto split of Afghanistan into a Pashtun/Taliban South and non-Pashtun/anti-Taliban north? Would the US and its allies be prepared to stay on to assist any new ‘Northern Alliance’ that would almost certainly develop?

  • Chris says:

    Well what makes you think that Karzai might FLEE the country anytime soon?
    You’re assuming an awful lot about Karzai’s intentions and “stability” that apparently the rest of us don’t know about yet(You wouldn’t have ever worked for the Abdullah Abdullah campaign before right,haha?).
    At the end of the day the Afghan government will do its best to get an “enduring” if not outright permanent international presence in its country(unless they’re just blatantly lying to us in private about their intentions).That way they can be protected against both the Talibs,the Pakistanis,the Iranians,and Al-Qaeda for eternity ala the security cases of Germany and South Korea.Hopefully this scenario would placate the Pakistanis as well,since any further delusions about a Hindu-Zionist rear action(the orginal contigency for this was of course the taliban)would ought to be ended in the face of permanent American forces.Like I said….Airstrip 1………

  • villiger says:

    Give the Pashtuns Pashtunistan. That ought to keep a lot of people, Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns, happy.

  • Chris says:

    Because segregation works……


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram