The U.S. Army’s Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment on patrol in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan (Photo: Reuters/Andrew Burton)Days before the so-called bi-lateral security agreement heads to an Afghan council of elders and political leaders for a final decision, the U.S. is attempting to force through a stipulation that would allow U.S. troops to continue raiding Afghan homes, in addition to measures giving U.S. troops and contractors immunity from Afghan law and extending U.S. military presence far beyond Obama’s 2014 pullout date.
“If you reduce the amount of occupation forces but keep them there forever, then the occupation continues and the war on people’s everyday lives is not actually over — no matter what the US government or mainstream media tells us.” –Kimber Heinz, WRL
Critics charge that the U.S. is giving itself the green light for open-ended occupation at the expense of the Afghan people. “Occupation is not defined by how many occupiers are policing someplace,” said Kimber Heinz of the War Resisters League in an interview with Common Dreams. “If you reduce the amount of occupation forces but keep them there forever, then the occupation continues and the war on people’s everyday lives is not actually over — no matter what the US government or mainstream media tells us.”
The U.S. is pushing for the right to enter Afghan homes over the apparent objection of Afghan negotiators. “We believe it is not only the violation of the Afghan sovereignty, but also of the basic rights of the Afghan people,” said President Hamid Karzai’s spokesperson Aimal Faizi on Monday, referencing the U.S. demand to be allowed to enter Afghan homes.
This latest sticking point comes after attempts on the part of U.S. negotiators to ram through immunity for U.S. troops and independent contractors from Afghan law. According to The Washington Post, the U.S. appears to have succeeded in including this immunity in an accord reached Saturday.
A draft of the agreement will head on Thursday to Afghanistan’s loya jirga, a gathering of 3,000 elders and political leaders who will spend days deliberating over whether to accept the agreement. An Afghan official told The New York Times that Karzai is willing to try to convince the loya jirga to accept this immunity, but not U.S. entry into Afghan homes.
The issue of immunity for U.S. troops has long been a point of contention for the Afghan people, who have faced a staggering civilian death toll, as well as a spate of high-profile massacres, including the 2012 Panjwai massacre, in which 16 Afghan civilians were gunned down and killed, and 6 wounded by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.
The Washington Post reports that a draft text of the agreement does not specify how many U.S. troops will be allowed to remain in Afghanistan, giving the U.S. unilateral power to determine this number. Furthermore, the document does not prohibit the U.S. from using Afghan territory to launch drone strikes against nearby Pakistan.
The U.S. has framed the raids and continued troop presence as part of an ongoing special operations force to hunt down “terrorist” cells. Yet critics charge that this is just occupation by another name. “The ‘counter-insurgency’ and paramilitary tactics employed in Afghanistan that require fewer ground forces are also being developed for use by armed forces and militarized police units all over the world, including in the U.S., making resistance to the U.S.’s latest strategy for global dominance imperative,” said Heinz.
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Source: Common Dreams