ISAF: No evidence to support Afghan torture allegations
posted at 12:41 pm on February 25, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Not that we expected to find any, and it’s not just the Americans who are nonplussed at the allegations. The ISAF has yet to figure out what Hamid Karzai was talking about when he ordered Americans out of Wardak province, although the German general at ISAF pledged to work with Karzai’s government to discuss their concerns:
The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan has so far found no evidence to support Afghan allegations of misconduct by American special forces in a strategic eastern province, the alliance’s spokesman said on Monday.
German Gen. Gunter Katz said the International Security Assistance Force will work with the government to find a solution to the concerns of Afghans, but could not yet comment on the allegations that Afghans connected with U.S. special forces were involved in abuses that include torture, killings and illegal detentions. …
“We take all allegations of misconduct seriously and go to great lengths to determine the facts surrounding them,” Katz told reporters. “Over the past few weeks there have been various allegations of Special Forces conducting themselves in an unprofessional manner” in Wardak.
He added that “so far, we could not find evidence that would support these allegations.”
The allegations are not against US forces per se, but but local forces allied with them. Karzai’s government wants the US to cough up the identities of those forces, which presents the US with all sorts of problems in the region. The US has tried to put together an “Anbar Awakening” strategy in place, but that takes a great deal of trust between the US and tribal and community leaders — some of whom will surely not place much faith in the Afghan security forces’ ability to keep a secret. Pushing for those names will bring that strategy to an end, and the US might as well pack up and leave the region altogether anyway if they comply with Karzai for all the assistance we’ll receive.
There is another issue in play, too. The Karzai government wants to force an end to immunity for NATO troops accused of war crimes, in order to bring them to trial in Afghan courts. The same issue arose in Iraq in the last two years of our operations there, and became an insurmountable obstacle in establishing a permanent advisory/logistical force in that country. By accusing the US of complicity in war crimes in Wardak, Karzai is turning up the heat on this demand, which is going to make Barack Obama’s efforts to maintain a credible force in Afghanistan after 2014 a lot more difficult, if not impossible.