The situation in Afghanistan is getting more and more out of the US and NATO control. On Monday, a “rogue” Afghan policeman turned his gun against NATO soldiers killing six Americans.
This was regarded as the worst incident of the kind this year.
The shooting took place in Nangarhar Province, which borders Pakistan and includes the Tora Bora Mountains and the cave complex that was one of the last hide-outs of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
The Taliban has called the incident one of its greatest successes in adopting new tactics – that is making the Afghan policemen and soldiers trained by NATO instructors turn their arms against their tutors.
The latest incident is probably the bloodiest one this year, but definitely not the only one.
It was at least the fifth time in 13 months that Afghan soldiers or police officers have turned their weapons on their NATO partners.
In August, in northern Badghis Province, two Spanish police officers and their interpreter were killed by an Afghan police trainee; officials said the killer was a Taliban agent.
British soldiers were killed by Afghan security forces in two separate attacks in Helmand Province. In July, an Afghan soldier used rocket-propelled grenades and a gun to kill three British soldiers; Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility.
In early November 2009, five British soldiers were killed by a rogue soldier as they relaxed on a roof at an Afghan-British checkpoint.
The most recent instance was on November 6, when an Afghan soldier turned his weapon on two Americans in Helmand Province, killing them, and then fled. A spokesman for the Taliban said the killer had taken refuge with its fighters.
Most of the previous cases are said to have involved Taliban infiltrators. But no one has given a definite answer on how to distinguish between a Taliban fighter posing as an Afghan government soldier or policeman, and a soldier/policeman who voluntarily decides to join the insurgents’ fight against foreign invasion.
The cases cited above are only the cases when the attack was launched by people believed to be US and NATO allies. All in all, within the whole period of foreign invasion since 2001, more than 2,200 foreign troops have been killed in Afghanistan, with 2010 being the worst year ever on terms of casualties.
All this raises a lot of questions, the most vital of them being - is the US and NATO really ready to leave the country in 2014 as Barack Obama and other Western leaders promise?
It would be appropriate to recall that when Barack Obama came to power, he promised to start the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan in 2011. But, facing the aggravating situation in that country later reformulated his promise, now saying that the troops’ withdrawal will start in 2014 provided that the US will be sure that it can rely on the Western-trained Afghan army, police and security forces to take the responsibility in their hands.
The incidents involving the Afghan soldiers and policemen turning their arms against the Westerners show that the more training is given to them, the deadlier the double-edged sword becomes. And the most vital of all vital questions arises by itself: isn’t it the US and NATO presence that is really aggravating the situation?
Now, the NATO officials are putting up a bold front, saying that the incidents will not affect NATO’s commitment to “partnering” with Afghan security forces. But privately, more and more Western soldiers are beginning to say that they are losing confidence in their Afghan “partners”.
The Iraq war has cost the US about 4,500 soldiers killed, that is two times more that the Afghan war. But the life of a single person is precious. How long is the public to wait, and how many more deaths it will cost to realize that the Western troops are posted in a country which is not going to welcome them, as it never welcomed ANY foreign invaders?
And training the Afghan army, police and security forces means only one thing: the Taliban fighters will eventually absorb in their ranks more skillful and well-trained soldiers.
It is better not to think about the possible consequences.