Not killing civilians? Afghan govt would be happy to let US troops stay on these ‘magical terms’
RT:Again we’re seeing innocent civilians, including children, being killed by the US forces in Afghanistan by accident. Are we going to see any ramifications for this?
Robert Naiman: Well yes, absolutely, partly
because this is directly tied to what is in dispute between the
Afghan government and the US government as they are trying to
negotiate an agreement on what is going to happen to the US
forces after 2014, what they will be allowed to do. The Afghan
government does not want the US to unilaterally engage in
military operations in Afghanistan and particularly wants to end
all night raids. This event is an example of why the Afghan
government is so adamant about this. And events like this make it
less likely that the US and the Afghan government will be able to
reach an agreement.
RT:Yet despite all this, the US wants the full immunity for its troops too?
RN: Well sure. Who wouldn’t if they can get it? As we know these are the kinds of issues that prevented the negotiations between the US government and Iraqi government from reaching a successful conclusion. The US would be happy to keep troops there on their terms. The Afghan government would be happy to keep US troops there on kind of magical, unicorn fantasy terms that they never kill civilians, they never do anything that the Afghan government does not like. Those two things are in contradiction. The US forces that magically do what the Afghan government wants and doesn’t do what the Afghan government and people don’t want. Those US forces, those magical US forces don’t exist. If the Afghan people and government want to stop events like this from happening, they are going to have to send the US forces out of the country.
RT:If the agreement is not reached between US and Afghanistan, can the Afghan’s handle the situation by themselves?
RN: At the end of the story, the key question is, is there going to be a political accommodation in Afghanistan or not? If there’s not, the war is going to keep going one way or the other, US forces and Afghan forces. People are still going to get killed. For what reason, exactly, what is being accomplished by keeping the war going? The US admits that in parts of Afghanistan where they have been operating, the Afghan insurgency is going to resume control when the US leaves. So what is the point in continuing the war? Why not get a political agreement that ends the war? The Afghan government has been demanding that the US move forward on that. The US hasn’t moved forward, because it is not ready, apparently, do the prisoner exchange that would start the negotiations.
RT:Taliban is making more and more inroads, what can be done about that practically?
RN: Well first of all, to accept it - that’s what can be done about it. The US government admits that it can’t get rid of the Afghan Taliban, can’t eliminate them, that the Afghan Taliban is going to move back, even according to the US plans, they are going to go from 50-60,000 troops now to maximum 12-13,000 if the Pentagon gets its way.
RT:What do the Afghans themselves want?
RN: Currently, there is a division of opinion there. There is no unanimity of opinion there. Some Afghans would tell you that they want the US troops to stay but stop killing innocent people, that is a contradiction. Those magical US troops don’t exist. Other Afghans, you know there is a broad agreement in Afghanistan that they want the war to end, they want the political agreement that ends the war- that has been true for a long time. Western media have reported that. That is what should happen. There should be a political agreement to end the war. After all, talks are happening now in ending civil war in Syria. Why should there be a political process to end the civil war in Afghanistan? A key obstacle is Western policy that has not move seriously to start the talks, starting as I’ve said with very simple step of exchanging the Afghan prisoners at Guantanamo for the US soldier Bergdahl that is being held by the Taliban. As long as that does not happen, we know that the US government isn’t serious about a political process to end the war.
RT:There is a fourth presidential election coming up in Afghanistan. How is that going to play out?
RN: The key thing now is that President Karazai has said, whatever happens to this agreement should be determined by the new President. The US is very much against that. They want to get the agreement nailed down now, If it is not going to get nailed down before the election, then this going to be a key issue in the election, which would be great, because then the Afghan people can decide what they want. Voters can say - are you for it or are you against it? People can vote for the candidate which has the position they agree with. So if you believe in democracy in the Afghanistan, you should be delighted that the agreement be delayed until after the election.