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US-Afghan Pact Hung Up On Night Raids

Posted by The Agonist on February 20th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Gareth Porter reports that any deal to allow the US to keep a presence in Afghanistan after 2014 is hung up on the US tactic of night raids, part of the special-forces run “assassination” phase that Bacevich identifies as the latest phase of the perpetual war America has waged for over a decade. Afghan president Karzai wants the US to hand leadership of the raids to Afghans, complaining about infringements of Afghan sovereignty, while the US flatly refuses. One military source told Gareth that “They’re not going to give them up,”…”This is the last offensive tactic we will have available.”

That word “offensive” could be taken two ways.

Afghan anger at U.S. night raids has continued to grow as the pace of those raids has risen steeply in recent years, and thousands of families still suffer the consequences of long-term detention because of the raids.

Haji-Niaz Akka, 48, a shopkeeper in Kandahar city, told IPS about a two a.m. raid on his home almost eight months ago in which U.S. forces tied up all four males in the house and took them away. Two of them were released two days later, but the other two, his nephew and son-in-law, were taken to Bagram air Base and remain in detention.

“These night raids violate our customs,” Akka said, expressing a common Afghan view. “It’s better to be killed than to be searched at night while sleeping with (one’s) wife and kids. This is absolutely unacceptable.”

Zahir Jan Ustad, a resident of Kandahar’s Panjwai district, is still angry about two of his brothers being detained in two separate night raids in Kandahar City and in Panjwai last September.

“We don’t know why the Americans are disturbing us by night raids which we hate,” he told IPS in an interview. “They are coming at night and searching our women. Our women are our honour, and we really hate (the U.S.) for that,” Usted said.

The Afghan anger at night raids is also a major factor in the antagonism felt by Afghan army officers and soldiers as well as police toward foreign troops that has resulted in 40 attacks by Afghan security personnel on U.S. troops since 2007, three-fourths of them in the past two years. Nearly 100 U.S. and NATO personnel have been killed or wounded in such attacks.

A study done for the U.S. military by behavioural scientist Jeffrey Bordin in late 2010 and early 2011 revealed that night raids and house searches were mentioned more frequently than any other issue by Afghan troops as a reason for serous altercations with U.S. forces.

By contrast, there have been exactly three cases of “green on blue” fire in all the years of a US presence in Iraq, and all three were in and around the insurgent hotbed city of Mosul. US-led night raids in Afghanistan look very like an offensive option that’s more offensive to the Afghans than it is useful to America.

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