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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs