Dempsey said he discussed the uprisings with Karimi, the army chief, and the Afghan defense minister, Bismullah Khan Mohammadi. They told him they "appreciated that they should allow this to occur (and) they should probably nurture it. They don't necessarily feel at this point as if they should tangibly support it."
The Afghan government's concern, Dempsey said, is that influential warlords could embrace these local movements and eventually leverage them to threaten the armed forces of the central government.
In a separate interview Sunday with al-Hurra, the Arabic-language satellite TV channel funded by the U.S. government, Dempsey was asked whether he worries that Syria, in the midst of a civil war, could become another Afghanistan.
"I do. I have grave concerns that Syria could become an extended conflict" that drags on for many years, he said.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.