News / Asia

    US, Afghans Investigate Atrocities Claims

    Villagers stand in front of the graves of people killed during an explosion in Sayedabad, Wardak southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2013.
    Villagers stand in front of the graves of people killed during an explosion in Sayedabad, Wardak southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2013.
    Luis Ramirez
    U.S. military officials said they have set up a joint U.S.-Afghan commission to look into Afghanistan’s complaints that Afghan forces supported by U.S. troops have been torturing and murdering innocent civilians.  

    The joint commission will look into the complaints, which on Sunday prompted Afghan President Hamid Karzai to order all U.S. special operations forces out of Wardak, a strategically important province near Kabul.

    Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters Monday U.S. officials will try to find out what prompted the government of President Karzai to make the decision, which military officials said they were not expecting.

    “We’re working with the government of Afghanistan to define precisely what their concerns were. Obviously, we take all of their concerns very seriously,” he said.

    Mr. Karzai’s decision comes shortly after his government banned NATO air strikes in populated areas - a move analysts say demonstrates the Afghan government’s growing anxiety about civilian casualties as most U.S. and foreign troops prepare to exit the country at the end of next year.

    Michael O’Hanlon, a defense analyst at the Brookings Institution research organization in Washington, said there is a problem of confidence.

    “It’s pretty clear that President Karzai does not fully believe in the war strategy," he said. "I think it’s been true for a while, frankly, partly because the war’s been so frustrating for him and for us. But his confidence level that the downsides of war are worth it has declined.”

    Building the confidence of Afghans is key at this stage in efforts to hand over security responsibility to Afghan national security forces, a process expected to be complete by the time most international troops withdraw at the end of 2014.

    Senior NATO officials say they do not believe the growing Afghan restrictions on the operations will ultimately hinder their overall mission. As one NATO official put it, some tactical successes are not worth the strategic risk of losing the confidence of the Afghan people.

    O’Hanlon saw a positive sign in the Afghan government’s growing assertiveness. He said, "Afghans or at least President Karzai are behaving like they control their own country and they’re taking on sovereign responsibility. That’s a transition that needs to be happening, is happening, and needs to be complete pretty soon. That mentality is actually appropriate. We don’t want  a dependent state.”

    President Obama has announced that more than half of the 66,000 U.S. troops now in Afghanistan will be out by this time next year. The U.S. says that exit will be gradual so as to keep enough troops in place to advise, train and assist Afghan forces during this year’s fighting season and next year’s elections.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora