Wardak – story challenges…
By Tim Foxley
Summmary: The Wardak torture/abuses/disappearances story is predictably unpredictable
As ever, picking through the various pieces of information of a particular story in Afghanistan can be a challenge – and, with information sources slowly drying up, it will become more of a problem, not less.
Just seen this from Foreign Policy about the recent Wardak incident that caused Karzai to throw US Special Forces out of the province:
The complexities of Wardak. Disagreement about what happened in Wardak has forced a negotiation over the future of the American presence in the Afghanistan province. Reports of torture, disappearances, and other abuses, first laid at the feet of U.S. Special Operations Forces operating in Wardak, resulted in President Hamid Karzai calling for an end to U.S. operations there. American officials now say they are trying to work it out. But a report in the LAT this morning explains the discrepancies between the U.S. and the Afghan government and how this could contribute to problems for the end-game. The LAT, with reporting in Washington and Wardak: “The story was gruesome: A university student, captured in a U.S. special forces raid, was found decapitated and with his fingers sliced off. Amid a groundswell of public anger, Afghan President Hamid Karzai‘s office cited that incident, as well as reports that nine villagers had been abducted from their homes, when he decided last week to bar the elite U.S. troops from a volatile province at the doorstep of Kabul, a move that could one day put the capital at risk. But the account of the young man’s death was wrong, U.S. and local Afghan officials say. He was snared by armed men, not U.S. forces or their Afghan allies, according to Afghan law enforcement officials. In police photos of the body, he has one finger chopped off and a gash on one side of his neck, but he wasn’t beheaded.”
The story smacks of Afghan Local Police or some form of locally hired militia more than professionally trained and equipped Afghan Special forces. So the story possibly garbled in a number of ways – possibly compounded by a volatile and premature reaction from Karzai, mixed with his desire to be seen to be taking a tough line against the international forces (who are mostly going now anyway, so less concern about causing offence) and perhaps exacerbated by the rush to throw in “trained” Afghan security forces of every hue in order to demonstrate that transition is on track. I wonder whether, in the end, there will come a time when President Karzai finds himself having to order his own airforce/artillery/special forces/intelligence services out of the country or banning them from conducting operations.