Sunday, April 8, 2012
Afghanistan: U.S. and Karzai government reach deal on night raids
A deal on night raids has been reached between the U.S. and Karzai government. This clears away an obstacle for a broader deal on the U.S. presence in Afghanistan after 2014. The U.S. will maintain a presence for years after the withdrawal of combat troops. No doubt special forces will stay and night raids will continue under the new rules. There was no word when the new agreement comes into effect. Afghanistan at present does not even have the legal framework for implementing the agreement so it cannot take effect right away.
The new rules would give Afghanistan veto power over the raids. While the raids are praised as a key tactic by NATO commanders locals and the Afghan government have objected to them. The deal was signed by Defense Minister General Wardak and U.S. Marine General John Allen the top NATO commander. Allen said:"Today we are one step closer to the establishment of the U.S.-Afghan strategic partnership. Most importantly, today we are one step closer to our shared goal and vision of a secure and sovereign Afghanistan," Translated this means they are closer to an agreement for NATO to remain in Afghanistan for another decade or so after 2014.
Under the agreement, Afghan authorities will have control over prisoners taken in night raids and decide whether to allow U.S. interrogators access to detainees. An Afghan judge would give a warrant approving the raid. At present the Afghans have no set up to do this. This makes one wonder if the new rules are actually for after 2014! There is no date of the changes mentioned or even a time line. NATO commanders are reported to be worried that the curbs will hurt the effectiveness of their operations.
A new elite Afghan special operations commando group will lead raids. Probably the group is modeled on U.S. special forces and were no doubt trained by NATO. Defense Minister Wardak said:"From now on all night raids will be conducted by the Afghan national army, police and intelligence in close coordination with Afghan judicial bodies," Presumably he means when the deal comes into force. The deal may simply deflect some of the criticism of the raids from NATO and the U.S. to the Karzai government. Those attacked object to the invasion of their homes in the middle of the night and the collateral damage caused not just that Americans are involved. For some time now many of the raids are joint operations. For more see this article.