As you sow …

Southasia - - Comment -

The Coali­tion troops in Afghanistan find them­selves in a pe­cu­liar sit­u­a­tion – the very Afghan sol­diers they have trained are turn­ing their guns on them. There have been sev­eral in­ci­dents over the past weeks and months when coali­tion sol­diers have been killed by Afghan se­cu­rity forces. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, the so-called green-on-blue at­tacks (a ref­er­ence to the color of uni­forms of Afghan and NATO forces), in which Afghan sol­diers are re­ported to have turned their weapons against their for­eign al­lies, have led to the killing of a sub­stan­tial num­ber of in­ter­na­tional sol­diers. Though NATO and the US au­thor­i­ties tend to cam­ou­flage such at­tacks in the guise of per­sonal griev­ances, there is cer­tainly more than meets the eye. Ac­cord­ing to top of­fi­cials, the “blue-on­green” in­ci­dents are, in fact, se­ri­ously threat­en­ing the progress the In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity As­sis­tance Force (ISAF) has made in Afghanistan over re­cent years.

There is a pos­si­bil­ity that these in­ci­dents are a re­sult of the dis­missal of the Afghan min­is­ters of de­fense and in­te­rior which may have cre­ated a loss of mo­men­tum gained since the sum­mer of 2011. Ac­cord­ing to a se­nior US gen­eral, this could also be the re­sult of in­creased dis­il­lu­sion­ment of the lo­cal peo­ple with the war and Karzai’s gov­ern­ment, which in turn could have boosted lo­cal sup­port for the Tal­iban. How­ever, coali­tion of­fi­cials say they are work­ing with their Afghan part­ners to try to mit­i­gate the “green on blue” at­tacks. NATO has some 130,000 sol­diers on ground in Afghanistan, pur­port­edly help­ing the Afghan gov­ern­ment fight in­sur­gent Tal­iban Is­lamists and train­ing the Afghans to take over. Ac­cord­ing to au­thor and an­a­lyst Ahmed Rashid, as far as the fu­ture part­ner­ing and train­ing and men­tor­ing of Afghan forces by NATO and the US is con­cerned, this is go­ing to have a very neg­a­tive ef­fect and the lack of trust be­tween the two sides is expected to grow.

While the US and coali­tion forces have not been very sure about how many troops to leave be­hind once the ma­jor troops with­drawal takes place in 2014, con­sid­er­ing the new wave of mis­trust be­tween the for­eign troops and lo­cal forces, they now need to fur­ther reeval­u­ate the num­bers. It is also im­por­tant to en­sure that the coali­tion’s plans to trans­fer se­cu­rity re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to lo­cal forces by the end of 2014 are not de­railed as a con­se­quence of these developments.

The US and coali­tion com­man­ders as well as their na­tional lead­er­ships need to sit down and do some soul-search­ing of their own to as­sess the very rea­sons for the pres­ence of the huge mil­i­tary force in the re­gion and the green on blue phe­nom­e­non. It is clear that the US has gained a strong foothold in Afghanistan and, as a re­sult, now pos­sesses a stronger ca­pa­bil­ity of keep­ing a closer eye on Iran, Pak­istan, China, Rus­sia and the CIS. But in ful­fill­ing its long-sought goals, it has also made sure that Afghanistan and its peo­ple do not emerge from their sorry plight and re­main con­signed to the back­wa­ters of his­tory. No won­der then that it is a case of reap­ing as you sow.

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