4 years, 10 months ago
One error made in the phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom following the invasion was the foisting of a democratic form of government on the country, and even more specifically, a parliamentary form of government. It led to the ineptitude and intransigence of the government for a protracted period of time. The position of Prime Minister, held now by Maliki, was used as much to prevent U.S. operations against rogue Shi’a elements as it was to serve the country. Indeed, while performing a defensive political operation for Moqtada al Sadr, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and the SIIC and others, he had no problem allowing the U.S. to go after Sunni insurgents in Anbar and in and around Baghdad. Even recently Marine Maj. Gen John Kelly has complained about the lack of funding flowing from Baghdad to Anbar. Having a political authority and structure to which the U.S. was reportable hindered the progress of counterinsurgency, even if in the end a political authority was necessary for turnover of control.
Hamid Karzai wants the U.S. to make the same mistake in Afghanistan. Even worse, he wants operational and strategic control over U.S. forces.
The Afghan government has sent NATO headquarters a draft agreement that would give Afghanistan more control over future NATO deployments in the country — including the positioning of some U.S. troops, officials said Tuesday.
The draft technical agreement would put into place rules of conduct for NATO-led troops in Afghanistan and the number of additional NATO troops and their location would have to be approved by the Afghan government.
The agreement — an attempt by Afghanistan to gain more control over international military operations — would also prohibit NATO troops from conducting any searches of Afghan homes, according to a copy of the draft obtained by The Associated Press.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who met with Gen. David Petraeus on Tuesday and discussed how to prevent civilian deaths and the role of Afghan forces in U.S. missions, told legislators that his government sent the draft agreement to NATO about two weeks ago. As the head of U.S. Central Command, Petraeus oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Addressing parliament at its opening session, a frustrated Karzai said the U.S. and other Western military allies have not heeded his calls to stop airstrikes in civilian areas in Afghanistan. He warned that the fight against militants cannot be won without popular support from Afghans.
The Afghan president urged the U.S. and NATO to follow a new military strategy in Afghanistan that would increase cooperation with Afghan forces and officials to prevent the killing and maiming of civilians.
“We will not accept civilian casualties on our soil during the fight against terrorism and we cannot tolerate it,” Karzai told parliament.
In addition to strategic control, he wants tactical control over the actions of U.S. troops.
“The president has said there is a need to review our relationship and the way we move forward and we need to make sure that Afghans, particularly on the issue of searches and arrest, are in the forefront,” Hamidzada told The Associated Press during an interview at the heavily fortified presidential palace.
“We have to make sure that in the villages we don’t burst into people’s houses, we don’t arrest people arbitrarily and we don’t act on intelligence that is not verifiable,” he said.
He blames many of the problems on air power, and while it’s true that The Captain’s Journal has advocated increased troop presence with the population in Afghanistan (which should lead to more accuracy in the application of air power), this would most certainly mean an increase in intelligence-driven raids. U.S. troops don’t need the hindrance of the ineptitude of the Afghan Army during such raids. More correctly, the Afghan troops are still learning and being mentored. In the battle of Wanat, of the nine dead and twenty seven wounded, all casualties were U.S. Army. None were Afghan troops.
This is all from one Karzai who prostrated himself before Mullah Omar, beseeching him to return to the fold. On the first day of Id al-Fitr, President Hamid Karzai had a great treat in store for his people. In a speech he said: “A few days ago I pleaded with the leader of the Taliban, telling him ‘My brother, my dear, come back to your homeland. Come back and work for peace, for the good of the Afghan people. Stop this business of brothers killing brothers’.”
Karzai is facing an election soon, and some of this may be posturing in front of the Afghan people. Regardless of his motivation, he essentially wants the equivalent of the Iraq Status of Forces Agreement in Afghanistan, while he is begging Mullah Omar to return to Afghanistan and promising him protection. The campaign is nowhere near this phase.
Given the state of affairs in Afghanistan, to give operational, strategic and tactical control of U.S. troops over to a foreign president would not only work contrary to the unity of command sought by placing U.S. troops back under CENTCOM with Petraeus in charge. More to the point, it would have disastrous consequences for the campaign.
We haven’t yet made this colossal blunder in the campaign, but Karzai has made it clear that he wishes us to. If Karzai presses this issue, he could become not just a hindrance to the campaign as he is now with his corrupt government. Rather, he could become a very real enemy of the peace and stability of Afghanistan. The U.S. might have to cut its ties with and support of Karzai.