Karzai Orders US Special Forces Out Of Province
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered U.S. Special Forces to leave an Afghan province that has been the site of heavy insurgent activity:
The Afghan president has ordered US special forces to leave Wardak province within two weeks.
The decision was being taken due to allegations of disappearances and torture by Afghans considered to be part of US special forces, said a spokesman for Hamid Karzai.
The strategically significant, central province of Wardak has been the recent focus of counter-insurgency operations.
A US statement said it took all allegations of misconduct seriously.
But the US could not comment specifically on this latest development “until we have had a chance to speak with senior government officials”, the statement by a spokesman for US special forces said.
“This is an important issue that we must discuss with our Afghan counterparts,” the statement said.
The Afghan president’s office said the decision to order the expulsion of US special forces had been taken at a meeting of the National Security Council.
“After a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as US special force[s] stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people,” it said.
“A recent example in the province is an incident in which nine people were disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force and in a separate incident a student was taken away at night from his home, whose tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge.
“However, Americans reject having conducted any such operation and any involvement of their special force.
“The meeting strongly noted that such actions have caused local public resentment and hatred.”
Just two weeks ago, Karzai had also issued an order barring Afghan forces from calling in air strikes from U.S. or other ISAF forces, an apparent response to continued civilian resentment over attacks that had resulted in the deaths of women, children, and other innocents not involved with the fighting. As in that case, this latest order appears to be aimed at placating public resentment and the suspicion that Afghan’s trained by U.S. Special Forces have been engaged in what clearly seem to be some rather bloody attacks. The odd thing about the decision is that Wardak is seen as a gateway to Kabul and it seems odd that Karzai would take an action that, potentially, makes it easier for insurgents to conduct attacks in or near the capital.
In any case, I suspect we will see more of this as we get closer to the withdrawal of all U.S. forces. With the number of U.S. and coalition troops now decreasing. Karzai clearly feels himself free to go a more independent route.