News / Asia

US, Afghanistan Struggle to Agree on Special Forces

An undated handout photo shows nine civilians allegedly detained at a military outpost in Wardak by U.S. special forces and Afghans identified as translators.
An undated handout photo shows nine civilians allegedly detained at a military outpost in Wardak by U.S. special forces and Afghans identified as translators.
More than a week after Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered U.S. special forces to leave a strategically key area near the capital, officials from both sides are still struggling to resolve the issue.

Karzai ordered the elite American units out of Wardak province after residents complained that they, and Afghans working with them, were torturing and killing civilians - an allegation strongly denied by the United States. At the same time, the Afghan leader also accused the U.S. and NATO of trying to forge an agreement between the Taliban and his political opponents.

The escalating tensions reached Brussels Monday, when NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called the charges that international forces are colluding with the Taliban "an absolutely ridiculous idea."  

Meanwhile, ISAF spokesman Günter Katz told reporters in Kabul that NATO will eventually hand over security responsibilities for Wardak province, but that the alliance's "Afghan partners" must take the lead on developing a transition plan.

"There will be a transition to the Afghan National Security Forces. The only issue is the timeline and the methodology, but there is no doubt that [the Afghans] will take over the lead of Wardak," said Katz.

The decision to expel U.S. forces from the province - with its predominantly Pashtun population, the same ethnic group as the Taliban - has angered American defense officials who worry an abrupt exit could allow insurgents to strengthen their presence in the area and use it as a base to attack Kabul, only 25 kilometers away.

But Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi countered that Afghan forces are already fully capable of handling security operations nationally.

"The total number of Afghan troops nationwide is now 352,000, and that is in addition to the Afghan local police. We are ready to assume security responsibility from NATO anywhere in the country," Sediqi said.  

"There is no reason to suggest that after NATO withdraws, a particular province or district will collapse and be taken over by the Taliban, the Haqqani network or al-Qaida," he said.

A possible deal

Reuters, citing a top Kabul official, reported that Afghanistan and the U.S. are working on a compromise deal that would allow American special forces to stay in Wardak in return for full Afghan control of the controversial Bagram prison.

The U.S. partly handed over the high-security jail and around 3,000 suspected Taliban fighters to Afghan control last year. But full control over the jail has been repeatedly delayed as Afghan and U.S. officials argue over concerns that hundreds more Taliban still under U.S. custody would be released.

During a phone call Saturday, Karzai and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said they would work intensively over the next week "with a view to concluding an agreement" on Bagram.

Their discussion came the same day as several hundred Afghan demonstrators chanting "U.S. special forces out!" marched to the parliament building in Kabul demanding the elite commandos withdraw from Wardak.

Mark Snowiss

Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

New Yellow Fever Research May Lead to Improved Treatment

Researchers identify features of disease that may lead to more effective treatment More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Keel from: SoCal
March 19, 2013 10:15 AM
The referred collusion is that the US and Taliban agree to wage their war using Afghanistan as the battle space, and that innocent Afghans are caught in the crossfire. I agree that Karzai should exert his authority but it really is a little late to change this reality since he, Karzai, allowed it to go on for so long.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid