US – Afghanistan relationship strained
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
(VOVworld) The US - Afghanistan relationship has become severely strained lately. A US soldier shot and killed 16 Afghani civilians, mostly women and children, on Sunday, adding more fuel to the fire after the burning of Korans by NATO soldiers last month.
Afghans gather outside a NATO military base to protest the killing of civilians by a US soldier (Mustafa Khan/EPA)
US President Barack Obama called Afghani President Hamid Karzai immediately after the incident and promised to quickly investigate the massacre. White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday the US and Afghanistan will not change their strategic goals of eliminating Al Qaeda, and training Afghanis. But the latest incident has undermined all the results that the US has achieved in Afghanistan.
One day after the shooting, outrage has ignited across Afghanistan. The Afghan parliament said its people have run out of patience for foreign soldiers’ activities, while President Karzai condemned the killing as murder and terror and an unforgivable action. The Taliban in Afghanistan has vowed to revenge the "sick-minded American savages”. An Afghan government official said the incident will harm US efforts to reach a strategic deal with Kabul to permit a long-term American presence in Afghanistan.
Although the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said the culprit will be properly punished, the killing was the last straw for Afghanis. A decade after the US and coalition partners toppled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, security has still not been restored. The Al-Qaeda terrorist network has spread from Afghanistan to Pakistan, and other countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. It’s estimated that Afghanistan will need an additional 10 billion USD for its reconstruction. The World Bank predicts the Afghan budget will run a 7 billion USD deficit by 2014, and as a result, its army will be unable to function without foreign financing. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has declared Afghanistan a drugs hub which produces 90% of the world’s opium. From 2005 to 2009, the number of heroin addicts in Afghanistan tripled to 150,000 people, in addition to more than 230,000 opium users.
The killing of the Afghani civilians throws a dark shadow over the US-Afghan strategic partnership. Early this month, the two sides discussed Kabul’s reconciliation efforts, and the transfer of security responsibilities from foreign troops to local forces. On March 9th, the White House signed a deal to transfer Bagram prison, which holds hundreds of alleged Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists, to Afghanistan.
The people’s fury will not subside overnight. And the Taliban is taking advantage of the killing to incite Afghanis to resist the Americans.