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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs