Afghanistan's President today ordered U.S. special forces to leave Wardak province in the nation’s east within two weeks after investigators said Afghans working for the forces were torturing and murdering fellow citizens.
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai ordered an investigation which later found that Afghans working for the U.S. special forces in Wardak were “harassing, annoying, torturing, and even murdering innocent people,” according to an e-mailed statement from Karzai’s press office in Kabul today. The investigation had been asked to identify causes of insecurity in Wardak and Logar provinces.
Any country seeking to keep troops in Afghanistan after 2014 would only be allowed to do so after the Afghan government’s formal agreement, to be achieved bilaterally, according to the statement quoted by Eltaf Najafizada for Bloomberg.
The ban has been scheduled to go into effect in two weeks in the province, Maidan Wardak, which has long been seen as a crucial link in the defense of the capital against the Taliban. If fully enacted, it would effectively remove the American military’s main source of offensive firepower from the area, which lies southwest of Kabul and is used by the Taliban as a staging ground for attacks on Kabul.
The New York Time said the order has even more potential significance with the scheduled withdrawal of regular American combat forces in Maidan Wardak. By late spring, American officials have said they expect almost all conventional troops in eastern Afghanistan to be focused on advising Afghan forces, leaving Special Operations units as the only offensive troops in the region.
The decision was reached at a Sunday meeting of the Afghan National Security Council, chaired by Karzai, Faizi said. "The Ministry of Defense was assigned to make sure all U.S. special forces are out of the province within two weeks," he said.
Faizi also told Reuters that it became clear after a thorough discussion that armed individuals named as U.S. special forces stationed in Wardak province were engaging in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people.
Responding this issue, a statement from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan said: "US Forces Afghanistan is aware of the reporting of Presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi's comments today. We take all allegations of misconduct seriously and go to great lengths to determine the facts surrounding them. But until we have had a chance to speak with senior Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan officials about this issue, we are not in a position to comment further".
Karzai further pointed out that the security situation had not improved in Maidan Wardak for years, even after the Special Forces stepped up their activity, most of which focuses on Taliban field commanders and other high-ranking officials. Nevertheless, the operations have failed to reduce the violence. The violence, he said, had only worsened, and now “local people are blaming the U.S. Special Forces for every incident that is taking place there”.
“It is better to make the Special Forces withdraw from the province and let the local people understand that they are facing only Afghan forces. That will bring clarity to the situation”, he said.