Karzai Orders US Special Forces Out of Wardak Province
February 24, 2013 - 3:20 pm
The problem does not appear to be with American special operators but their Afghan adjuncts who, if reports can be believed, are running wild in the province of Wardak.
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.”
The presidential statement said Afghan forces were “duty bound” to put a stop to such behaviour, and urged local people to co-operate in bringing them to justice.
In a hastily convened news conference, a presidential spokesman suggested many of the allegations centred on Afghan citizens he alleged were working with US special forces.
“There are some individuals, some Afghans, who are working within these cells, within these [US] special forces groups” in Wardak province, said spokesman Aimal Faizi.
“But they are part of US special forces according to our sources and according to our local officials working in the province,” he said.
Locals are blaming the Afghan unit attached to our special forces for what might be enemy actions. It’s easier — and safer — to blame the US. Fingering the Taliban might very well result in an unwelcome visit to your home in the middle of the night. Besides that, there is the real possibility that the locals are lying, or exaggerating.
Neither do we know the circumstances in the village. Were the disappeared villagers Taliban sympathizers or fighters? Karzai apparently made a political decision. Whether he will regret it remains to be seen.