Last week a US soldier, suspected to be with a group, assaulted a village named Balandi in the Panjwii district killing 16 civilians, most of them women and children. The fall out from the incident has been massive. Protests against US and NATO troops have already surfaced in the capital Kandahar. Even US puppet president Hamdi Karzai cast serious doubt on the official story from the US military of a lone soldier. In reaction the military has flown the suspect out of Afghanistan and to Kuwait. The decision was made after US defence secretary Leon Panetta arrived in country and met with local officials and commanders. On Wednesday the serviceman was removed from the country, supposedly without the knowledge of the Afghan government.
Navy Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman said that the suspect needed to be removed from the country immediately because they did have the right detention facilities for a US service member in this case. It seems the US doesn’t believe it’s own troops should be held in the same conditions that an Afghan citizen who is suspected being with the Taliban is. There’s little doubt that the soldier, whose name has yet to be released, is being moved before the Afghan government can ask that he be handed over. Many officials in the occupied country had suggested as much, saying that his crime is against the people of Afghanistan and as such he should face an Afghan court.
After receiving the announcement of the soldier being removed, President Hamid Karzai told NATO to leave the villages and return to their bases according to the BBC. Karzai said that the reason he’s ordering them back is to avoid any further civilian causalities. Afterwards he spoke to the visiting Leon Panetta and told him that Afghan troops should take over security and counter-insurgency operations across the whole country in 2013. US officials insist that there is no rift with the Karzai government. Penetta continued by saying that the US must not lose sight of the mission despite the recent violence of the Koran burnings and massacring of civilians.
With the recent massacre, the Taliban has announced that they will be suspending all peace negotiations with the United States. The talks have been seeking an end to the decade long war and occupation.
“The Americans initially agreed to take practical steps regarding the exchange of prisoners and to not oppose our political office but with the passage of time, they turned their backs on their promises and started initiating baseless propaganda portraying the envoys of the Islamic Emirate as having commenced multilateral negotiations for solving the Afghan dilemma.
…until the Americans clarify their stance on the issues concerned and until they show willingness in carrying out their promises instead of wasting time.”
The peace negotiations have been not been going on that long, but have run into stumbling blocks. The talks which are taking place in the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar, have been making some progress towards the end of combat operations and allowing the Taliban to function as a regular political party in the Afghan government. The White House has responded to the Taliban’s statement saying that they are remaining committed to the Afghan reconciliation process despite the Taliban’s suspension of it.
I think this latest move to have the suspect moved out of the country shows that the US government is not willing to hand over any power to the local government, at least not yet. There is little doubt in my mind that the soldier was taken out of the country before Afghan forces could have him handed over and questioned about the incident. Some in the military fear that he may be tortured if he is placed in Afghan custody. Interestingly, the US government has always maintained that the Karzai government does not conduct torture on detainees, so if that is the case, than there should be no fear of the massacre suspect being tortured.
Its hard to tell at this point at how much US imperialism is willing to leave Afghanistan. There is a definite need to continue the occupation to ensure that the country remains in the influence of the US and that its natural resources continue to be used for the benefit of the ruling capitalist elite. However, the publics of both the US and Afghanistan are near a braking point in tolerating the occupation. There’s only so much social opposition it can endure before it breaks down. Add to this the tremendous cost of paying for the occupation and you have one more weakness in the already decaying US empire.