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Karzai confident he can get U.S. troops immunity

January 12th, 2013
01:55 PM ET

Part 1: Amanpour & Karzai

Part 2: Amanpour & Karzai

By Samuel Burke, CNN

In the only interview that President Hamid Karzai granted while he was in the United States, he expressed confidence to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the Afghan people will accept the United States’ demand for immunity for American troops left in place there after the 2014 withdrawal.

In a joint press conference with President Obama on Friday, Karzai had stated that he would take the issue to his people, but now he has said that immunity is likely to become a reality.

“I can tell you with relatively good confidence that they will say ‘alright, let’s do it,” Karzai told Amanpour about selling the issue to Afghans. “And I’m sure that they will understand.”

At the press conference, President Obama said that he had stressed to Karzai that “the United States already has arrangements like this with countries all around the world, and nowhere does the U.S. have any kind of security agreement with a country without immunity for our troops.”

In the final stages of the U.S. intervention in Iraq, President Obama was unable to obtain a similar agreement, propelling him to withdraw all U.S. forces from that country in December 2011.

Karzai rejected the notion that has been floated that the U.S. might leave “zero troops” in Afghanistan after the pullout is completed at the end of 2014.

He told Amanpour that Afghans need some type of U.S. presence for “broader security and stability” after the withdrawal. For that reason, Karzai believes Afghans will have to grant the U.S. troops left there immunity.

“The United States will need to have a limited number of forces in Afghanistan,” he said, but was unwilling to give an exact number. “That’s not for us to decide. It is for the United States to decide what number of troops they will be keeping in Afghanistan and what strength of equipment those troops will have.”

Karzai said that Afghanistan has turned the corner in terms of battling the Taliban. He does not believe those Islamic fundamentalists will ever regain the strength to enforce their radical agenda again – the closing of girls’ schools and subjugation of women.

“Having experienced the growth of Afghanistan – the creation of a critical mass in Afghanistan that is necessary for turning the corner from bad towards better – I think we have turned the corner,” he said. “I think there is now a critical mass in Afghanistan of the educated – of the Afghan people who want a future of progress and stability. And I think, also, that the Taliban have recognized the corner has been turned – the majority of them.”

RELATED: Gen. McChrystal tells Amanpour about the day Obama fired him

CNN’s Juliet Fuisz produced this piece for television.


Filed under:  Afghanistan • Best Interviews • Latest Episode
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    We need to either leave Afghanistan completely, or colonize it, pipeline it, and mine it for rare elements while eliminating any domestic objections as we develop it.

    Take it all. Every last ounce of it.

    January 12, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Reply
    • hassibkadir

      I think we should leave it up to the Afghan's to mine their own natural resources and use that to strengthen their government and fuel economic growth.

      January 12, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Reply
      • googs64

        The problem is that Afghanistan has no oil. They have no natural resources. Their best natural resource is Opium. There aren't many countries who will import opium. That is the single reason why Afghanistan is as big a problem.

        January 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
      • Robert

        Except of course, as soon as the US leaves, the Chinese will take it all. They are waiting and the Afghans are willing to give it to them. Ungrateful.

        January 12, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
      • James

        I think the people commenting need to educate themselves first. Afghanistan is actually rich in natural resources. It has one of the biggest lithuim deposits in the world. The biggest lapis mine in the world among other precious gems. It also has deposits of gold. The issue with mining the natural resources is the infrustruture and security. The immunity issue is not so that the US pressense can do whatever they what but to upload the rights that US citizens have serving in another country. Such as not getting beheaded for the death of caring for a baby of a Saudi like what just occured in Saudi Arabia. But instead having the right to a fair and unbaised trial of which currently sometimes that is not the case in Afghanistan.

        January 13, 2013 at 2:04 am |
      • j23

        Afghanistan currently sitting on millions of dollars worth of natural resources including copper. US will need to stabilize Afghanistan and secure part ownership of that country since it is next to China. Therefore, it will be easy to base front line and spearhead any counter attack if the Chinese decided to invade the world which soon will come.

        January 13, 2013 at 4:23 am |
    • J

      Take nothing.

      A limited US presence there, simply to help Afghanistan train and maintain its security forces against the threat of the Taliban and other terror groups is key.

      Let the Afghan people take their resources and use them to rebuild their country under their democracy until they are as strong, over decades of rebuilding, as South Korea is now. Then let them be a shining beacon of prosperity to their neighbors.

      January 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Reply
    • hmm

      Colonize the USA, distribute it's goods to rest of the world.

      January 13, 2013 at 2:38 am | Reply
      • j0eschm0e

        That is what obama wants to do

        January 13, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • M. Wijetunge

      Say it as it is. The piper's son has spunk.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Reply
    • davy

      Like

      January 13, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Reply
    • xpresvue

      And most importantly conscript this big-mouth and send him to Afghanistan to watch the progress.

      January 13, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Reply
  2. ric

    The US is kidding itself thinking this is going to happen. You will see, it will not.

    January 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Reply
    • albert

      You absolutely cannot trust Karzai or anyone else in that country!! There are many cases of Afghan soldiers and police turning their weapons on US military people. Obama must be getting senile to believe that stuff!

      January 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Reply
      • hassibkadir

        The cases you mentioned are rare and out of the ordinary relationship that typical Afghans have with US troops and ideas. Most if not all educated Afghan people are in favor of the direction that Afghanistan has moved in over the past decade. We've seen incredible economic growth and the population is getting more educated.

        The people responsible for those killings were usually Taliban or others that have pretended to be Afghan Police by wearing the uniform. This is all part of their plan to create instability and fuel a division between Americans and Afghans. Lets not let them have their way.

        January 12, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
      • j0eschm0e

        it is only a few, as a few americans have done the same to them. dont get blinded by the actions of a few, the bigger picture must remain in focus. The protection and education for all in all areas. The right to live Free.

        January 13, 2013 at 8:47 am |
  3. Dennis

    Karzai is a joke. His pronouncement that the Afghan people will go along with immuntiy for American troops is a joke. Karzai and his government barely have power and influence in Kabul, let alone the rest of the nation. We will continue to see insurgency and "green on blue" murders of American military and police personel. Every American soldier should be pulled out of Afghanistan.
    And make the Afghani's contract and pay mercenaries instead US taxpayers.

    January 12, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Reply
  4. Harleynut

    It was nice just to see she didn't have to cover her head.

    January 12, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Reply
  5. Derek Bauer

    The subjugation of women? They are still subjugated, albeit in a milder form than under the Taliban.

    January 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Reply
    • hassibkadir

      There may be some cultural norms and practices that you do not agree with but this does not equate to female subjugation.

      January 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Reply
  6. JCDavis

    Why do our troops need immunity? Because they are criminals.

    January 12, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Reply
    • hassibkadir

      I was wondering the exact same thing. Asking for immunity almost implies that we are expecting to do something illegal and wrong so we want a guarantee of non-prosecution. I don't understand the concept entirely. Maybe someone could shed some light on why US troops need or should have immunity?

      January 12, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Reply
      • Nate

        They need immunity because if they kill some Afghans during a firefight, we don't want our guys being brought up on charges in Afghan court

        January 12, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • andres

      If we are to put our youth into harms way, we need to protect them. Immunity is a good way to protect them. Now this does not allow our soldiers a free ticket as evidenced by the current US trial of the american solider whack job who killed those Afghan people. It merely prevents these countries from attempting to prosecute as a form of harrassment.

      January 12, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Reply
    • henry

      Because of the guilt feeling for all the killing the us did just like Irac thats why us troops kill themselfs when they get home. To me the U S in the same as Russia Every country wants to steahl other contries resorces

      January 14, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  7. Ian McKenzie

    It's funny how all of this is being portrayed. The decision lies solely with the President. We are not partners with Afghanistan. We are invaders who went to war against their country, won, and we now own their people and their land. They do not have a country anymore, the US has a country named Afghanistan located in the Middle East. End of story.

    January 12, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Reply
    • Andy in Oz

      Not exactly the case, certainly the US and allied partners went into Afghanistan of their own free will, of course naturally in retaliation for the events of the 11th of September, 2001. But it eventually morphed into something quite different. Invaders is perhaps too strong a word in this case but certainly there have been unforeseen results and the desired outcome as stated will not be achieved. Oh and by the way having troops in Afghanistan does not give the US a foothold in the Middle East since Afghanistan is in fact in Central Asia not the Middle East region.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  8. Jim

    Karzai has had the last 6 years to become a reliable partner and he has done everything but be reliable. I think we should leave Afghanistan and its erratic and corrupt Karzai on his own. Having a reliable, committed partner who is not corrupt is at least as valuable as immunity for our troops.
    Make sure Karzai knows that as of the end of the year we will not be bailing him out either financially or militarily. He should know that although we are leaving and are concerned about the fate of the Afghan people, the reason we came and our primary interest is in Afghanistan not being a haven for terrorist. We will be watching and if Afghanistan becomes a haven for terrorist as before, we will return, and this time with a totally different set of rules of engagement. Next time will be unlike during the Bush Administration who had other higher priority engagements in Iraq.

    January 12, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  9. 57strat

    Karzai needs the troops because his own will kill him if the US stops propping him up.

    January 12, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  10. Matt

    ARE YOU FKING KIDDING ME?!! All the crap he's talked about Americans to his people and he says he still wants our help?

    January 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  11. NMR

    American military should not be used for nation building, turn that over to the UN.

    January 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Reply
    • Hamid the Loon

      The UN sucks up money like a black hole does space and produces nothing but high paid jobs for a bunch of worthless bureaucrats.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Reply
      • me

        Haha– you are describing how the US Govt and what it does for corporate executives

        January 13, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  12. Rosie

    We should TOTALLY remove ALL troops from Afghanistan. Karzai wants the money to continue to him and his other ruling people although it seems the Afghanistan people are benefiting little. Twelve years is far too long and far too much!
    Bring everybody home and spend that money here in America.

    January 12, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  13. Paul

    I'll bet that if you compare the net worth of Karzai before he became President to his net worth now you would find a rather amazing increase. We cannot support corrupt presidents especially if we pick them and then complain about corruption. Get out of there ASAP. Everything we do there will cost 2 to 3 times as much due to the corrupt system. All we will do is feed the beast.

    January 12, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  14. Havi

    As an American who served in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan (70-72), and worked with Afghan refugees in
    New York City during the Soviet invasion and occupation – I would like to say that the SOFA agreement in
    South Korea enabled American soldiers to remain in country with immunity. They provide the edge that makes
    a difference there and have since the Korean War. None of us wants to see the gains achieved in Afghanistan with the presence of US troops be undermined. Consultation with my government is critical to determine the needs
    after 2014 – not only for us to protect ourselves from terrorist plots, but also to ensure that all the sacrifices
    made these past ten years will not be in vain. I urge both Presidents to see the issue in terms of that
    statement. Afghanistan is not just an issue of a terrorist who plotted against us and did grave damage.
    There are eight million children in schools and that is the future of the country. There are women who
    have been able to return to work. There are hospitals, clinics and schools opening and people rebuilding
    with the help of many countries. Let us not see our goal only in terms of protecting America. In fact, I
    do not believe ,the nations involved never have just looked at that narrow view. Let us open all our eyes
    to what has been done positively and commit to its continued growth.

    January 12, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Reply
    • tonya

      Afghanistan is not South Korea, and the citizens aren't making laptops. It is bad financial planning. War does not create actual profit, laptops do. Drugs are a dangerous game. And selling weapons to Iran's ally threatens your operations in Iraq.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Reply
  15. empresstrudy

    Bug out, throw the keys over your shoulder and let it all slide back into the Dark Ages.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Reply
    • allen

      ya youre right, liberals are all a bunch of quitters.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  16. allen

    its funny how much CNN shot themselves in the foot by broadcasting that we would pull ALL troops out of afghanistan in 2014 earlier this week ....and now that its obviously not going to happen, theyve been timid to even mention afghanistan the last few days. LOSERS!

    January 12, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Reply
  17. rad666

    Karzai just wants more American taxpayer dollars in his pocket before America retreats.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Reply
  18. Hamid the Loon

    Of course they need US troops there to protect the black market and other corrupt activities of the elites. Afghanistan could become a peaceful, prosperous nation except Islam will never allow that to happen.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:33 pm | Reply
  19. DickPerry

    What else would the US puppet say?

    January 12, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Reply
    • Jt_flyer

      Still looking for a real country. We don't want you.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  20. Jt_flyer

    Dump this corrupt heroin addict and his worthless country. Domes are what the terrorist fear most. Double drone activity and get our troops home. NOW!

    January 12, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Reply
  21. tonya

    I'm glad. Because, Afghanistan is a wonderful talking point when encouraging hippies to demonstrate their state budget into the ground. It'll help. And, I fear a day when there is no war to use as the "obvious unethical action" I was scared that the pendulum had swung, and seattle would not fall to the Ethical Anarchists. It's funny how karma is man made.

    January 12, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Reply
  22. Ipmutt

    We have Obama running away. We have the French kicking butt. What is going on?

    January 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Reply
  23. tonya

    weird how basic advice you would tell a teenage girl going off to college is exactly what the biggest macho military state needs to hear on repeat.

    Stay away from heroin, don't make bad friends. Stick to your school work. Don't sleep around and sell yourself. Don't go to class drunk, or on anything.

    Seems like minimalism in government through the 90's and 00's would have helped our plight. I keep humming the Eagles "in the long run" and I would also tell my teen daughter that there is a lot of truth in that song.

    January 12, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  24. tonya

    Please read dr seuss the butter battle book. You are suggesting that drone technology is to be trumped quicker. That's why you don't want anything to do with blowing up people. You just prune them into real trouble makers. By rule the deployment of technology is a deal with father time and mr. money bags. See you never actually own people or a battle field.. thats a free lessen. You "own the day" it's a lot of pie charts to prove it, but mountains fall to the sea, and flat lands do their resurface stuff too, as a general you are not a consumer of land or men, you are a force of the earths internal motion. So when you say fly more drones you say the opposite to a warrior such as myself. I haven't yet figured out how solar mass ejections

    January 12, 2013 at 7:56 pm | Reply
  25. me

    Giving US troops IMMUNITY is a very bad idea.

    Why do US troops need immunity? Do these US troops or their commanding officers know in ADVANCE that they are going to commit (more) crimes against the Afghanistani people?

    Do they need to be immune from raping or killing local Afghanistan people?

    No one, I repeat NO ONE should be immune from the law!!!

    January 13, 2013 at 12:13 am | Reply
    • Qayum

      You are 100% wright!!!

      January 13, 2013 at 3:55 am | Reply
    • Kynt

      Indeed, I'm wondering about that myself.

      January 13, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  26. Ralpg

    Karzai also stated if we went to war with Iran he would have to back Iran.

    January 13, 2013 at 3:10 am | Reply
  27. Beefburger

    What Karzai means to say is that if the US were to leave it would not be long before some teenage al Queda is sawing through his neck with a pocket knife while he and his friends are screaming "ALLUH AKBAR!"

    January 13, 2013 at 7:50 am | Reply
  28. Beefburger

    @"me" Without an immunity deal then the US would leave in a big hurry. Your choice. al Queada would run wild and be even less fun with a LOT more killing.

    January 13, 2013 at 7:58 am | Reply
  29. spacecalculus

    http://livingunderdrones.org/report/

    January 13, 2013 at 9:18 am | Reply
    • Jane McDonald

      Thank you.

      January 28, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Reply
      • spacecalculus

        “It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
        ― Mahatma Gandhi

        I hope that good comes from action. Thank you and much love and respect to you.

        January 29, 2013 at 7:42 am |
  30. mcalleyboy

    NO, no, no don't give Karzai any money we all know what he's up to and it's getting old, milk the US taxpayer for a bunch of corrupt clan members that don't want any change and hate the West and yes let's get out of that country just as soon as we can.

    January 13, 2013 at 9:24 am | Reply
  31. military man

    I can't help but laugh at all the people who say "don't give the military immunity" because they're free to break the law then. It doesn't give military members immunity from the law, it prevents them from being tried by the other country's laws. If a military member breaks a law in that country, then they are prosecuted under U.S. laws, by the military &/or U.S. court system. Please look up "Status of Forces Agreement" and read up on it before jumping to incorrect conlusions. Also, there have been MANY instances where U.S. soldiers have been killed by Afghan police/soldiers. The problem has spiked makedly in the past year. More often than not, these perpetrators were Taliban members who joined the police/military and worked in it for a while before killing U.S. soldiers, not just pretending to be a policeman/soldier. I know, I've been there a few times in my military career, twice last year. Finally, female subjugation does occur, quite often, in the more rural areas of Afghanistan. That country has a long way to go, but is progressing, albeit slowly.

    January 13, 2013 at 10:29 am | Reply
  32. JJ

    As with Vietnam Afghanistan will go down in future history books as a complete waste of time,money and lives.....Excluding all those that found it all very profitable of course....

    January 14, 2013 at 3:34 am | Reply
  33. Jim Jones

    The US has lost the war in Afghanistan. They need to admit defeat and go back home.

    January 14, 2013 at 9:59 am | Reply
  34. krm1007 ©™

    Karzai is a pimp. A two bit hustler who has the runs and rushes to India to go to the toilet. A RAW agent who is puppeted from India.

    January 14, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  35. MM

    We need American Army for 50 year! Why? Reason # 1 is Mr. PAKISTAN and Reason # 2 is Mr. IRAN and reason # 3 is illiteracy in Afghanistan.
    If US leave Afghanistan the 3 will destroy Afghanistan.

    January 15, 2013 at 7:33 am | Reply
  36. AT

    Afghanistan has had 11 years to figure out how to properly use all the resources that they have obtained from the international community and they blew it.

    Afghanistan does not want our help. All they want is for the international community to continue giving them the fish. They're not interested in how to fish for themselves.

    Afghanistan is an ungrateful country. We, the U.S., have spent billions, probably trillions, in attempting to teach that country to fish for themselves. It so unfortunate to see how much we have spent and to see the very tiny progress that has been made in that country. We cannot continue to spend and spend and spend resources and American lives for a country and a people that doesn't care anything about the U.S., its lifestyle, or its support.

    January 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Reply
  37. aktap

    Man, it's way past time We Americans give up on trying to save every pin head on this planet. We got suckered into taking on the mess that was the British empire in 1919. lets not keep sacrificing our kids for Bloomberg's and Wal-streets profits for God's sake! America needs too pull all of it's troop's out of Europe, the middle and far east right now. Pakistan, Iran, China, India I could go on and on! they all need to work out any problems they have on they're own. This world needs to live with out American blood too grease the wheels of everybody's else's future progress. No single country should be expected to pay for everybody's on this planets freedoms and protection. God I'm tired of the USA being the country the world loves to hate just because we can't save them from themselves!

    January 23, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Reply

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