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article imageOp-Ed: Afghan deal on withdrawal from Wardak shows that the US is boss

By Ken Hanly     Mar 21, 2013 in Politics
Kabul - Karzai had ordered all US special forces out of Wardak province within two weeks on February 24th. Now more than three weeks later, an agreement has been reached but only to withdraw from one district of the province.
British Lt. Gen. Nick Carter, who is second in command of NATO forces in Afghanistan, said that NATO forces would be reduced in the single district of Nerkh. However, he insisted that “elsewhere in Wardak, it’s business as usual.” Although the agreement says that there will be an eventual withdrawal from the rest of the province, no dates were given.
As reported earlier, in Digital Journal, locals had been complaining for some months about the operations of Afghan local police and the US special forces who train them and often operate jointly with them. The complaints included kidnapping, torture, and even the killing of a student. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) authorities claimed to have found no evidence that US special forces were involved in any abuses. However, nothing was said about the actions of the Afghan local police forces whom the US special forces train and often accompany on raids.
The ultimatum originally given by Karzai had already been modified so as to give NATO authorities more time to make arrangements for security in the province. Now it turns out that the time was needed to simply reject Karzai's demands and replace them with an agreement which represents very little movement towards satisfying his demands at all with minimal face-saving provisions for Karzai.
This agreement no doubt is intended to put Karzai in his place since he has been taking an increasingly nationalist stance of late and engaged in considerable criticism of NATO operations. Only hours before the agreement, Karzai's office had called NATO military operations "aimless and unwise".
General Joseph Dunford, the US commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, announced after talks with Karzai:"I am pleased to announce that following a very constructive series of talks... we have come to agreement on a plan for Wardak." No doubt the talks were constructive in that the US laid down the law, and told Karzai what was to happen. ISAF said Afghan forces would "soon" move into the district of Nerkh, and this would preclude the need for coalition forces and the US-trained Afghan local police in the area. Even this minor change has no date attached to it and no doubt will be made when the US thinks the Afghans are ready to take over.
Nerkh is just one of eight districts in Wardak. According to ISAF, the "remainder of the province will transition over time". So much for ultimatums and deadlines since not even approximate dates or timelines were given in the agreement. The ISAF announcement did not even mention US special forces specifically.
Dawlat Waziri \, and Afghan official, said that US special forces would leave Nerkh "within a few days". The deputy commander British Lieutenant General Nick Carter, noted that the change applied only to the Nerkh district and that forces would continue to operate in other parts of the province. Carter would not say whether some ISAF or special forces might remain in Nerkh.
Adela Raz, a deputy spokesperson for Karzai welcomed the agreement saying:"This has been the true demand of Afghan people and president. We welcome the agreement and we expect that it will be finalised as agreed."
Karzai is always mouthing anti-American material designed to show that he is not a puppet of the Americans. Every once in a while the Americans feel obliged to remind him that for the most part he is.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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