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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid