Sun Aug 26, 2012, 10:55 PM
DeSwiss (23,836 posts)
Afghan Army, Turning Their Guns On The Americans
Reader Supported News
By Sami Yousafzai, Ron Moreau, The Daily Beast
26 August 12
The number of coalition troops killed by Afghan soldiers
has surpassed those of the last two years. (photo: Majid
The toll keeps rising. By the time this issue of Newsweek went to press, members and civilian employees of Afghanistan's security forces had killed no fewer than 40 coalition troops this year-at least 10 of the dead, all of them Americans, in the first three weeks of August alone. The count has already passed last year's total of 35 dead, and it's reached fully double the figure for all of 2010. But as worried as U.S. commanders are by the growing number of insider attacks-"green-on-blue killings," they're sometimes called-Major Hasanzada (as he asks us to call him) says the trend doesn't surprise him. "I understand why our men are shooting U.S. and NATO soldiers," the Afghan National Army officer tells Newsweek. "I too have been personally hurt by the way American forces behave towards my soldiers, our villagers, our religion and culture. Too many of them are racist, arrogant, and simply don't respect us."
Those festering resentments are becoming a serious threat to America's withdrawal plans. A problem that emerged as a few isolated violent incidents in 2005 is now undermining the trust that's essential if allied forces hope to prepare the Afghans to shoulder their country's security responsibilities by the 2014 withdrawal deadline. In the past year or so, coalition troops have been working more closely than ever with Afghan troops. In fact, some U.S. commanders partly blame the rising frequency of insider attacks on this closer partnership between coalition and Afghan forces on the ground.
But these days the partnership is strained. The Americans and other coalition members are busy watching their backs, just in case some disgruntled Afghan recruit decides to avenge some insult, whether imagined or real. The threat is anything but imaginary. Several of the men under Major Hasanzada's command have told him that they too have thought about shooting their foreign trainers and counterparts, he says: "One soldier told me, 'In my heart I want to empty my bullets into their chests.' He has not done anything yet, but we are watching him carefully."
The trouble is that the estrangement is feeding on itself. A 48-year-old Afghan Army colonel confirms that the once cordial relations between Afghan and U.S. troops, both on the frontlines and in the barracks, have deteriorated badly in the past year. A veteran soldier who served under the communist-run government in the 1980s and early 1990s, he says the Americans have worsened the divide recently by shunning the Afghans, largely for fear of insider attacks. "We had a very good understanding with each other for years, but in the past year the Americans seem reluctant to deal with us," he tells Newsweek. (Since he is not authorized to speak to the press, he asks that we not disclose his location or his unit's designation.) "Our social relations and professional cooperation are getting worse," he says.
- Far from promoting democratic initiatives or retaliation against 911 perpetrators-enablers, I believe that just as the war in Iraq was a pretext toward gaining access to oil, I likewise think that our war in Afghanistan is a pretext toward gaining access to their rare earth deposits. Ironically both oil and rare earths are more necessary to those who seek to make war, than those who seek to wage peace.
Researchers mapped out a bounty of rare earth elements in Afghanistan's volcanic rocks. Shown here, clockwise from top center: praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium. CREDIT: Peggy Greb, USDA (Public Domain)
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