Karzai: US Failed to Consult with Afghans on Airstrike Killing 18 Civilians

Karzai's spokesman said another misstep like this and Kabul will start to view US troops as unwelcome occupiers

Tensions have risen between Washington and Kabul, as President Hamid Karzai criticized the U.S. for failing to consult with him on an air raid on an Afghan village killed 18 civilians including 9 children.

Through several security agreements with the Karzai government and a massive publicity campaign, the Obama administration has attempted to make the Afghan war appear over, or at least in transition. U.S. and NATO troops have begun to withdraw, albeit at a slow pace, and a supposed transition to a training mission is supposed to have begun.

The pacts the administration signed with the Karzai government nominally put Kabul in charge of what goes on in the country, including in the prison system, the night raids, and the combat planning. But this latest deadly raid made very clear that isn’t the case.

Afghan presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said U.S. troops had called in the airstrike without coordinating with Afghan units, thus violating the terms of its agreements with Washington. He said investigators told President Karzai that Afghan forces had surrounded the house in question, but U.S. troops didn’t care to wait for them to identity the militants and protect civilians and called in the airstrike instead.

Karzai now says that if similar incidents happen in the future, Kabul will consider them a breach of the agreements and that the U.S. was not keeping to its word.

“The expectation of the Afghan government and the Afghan people was that a new page would open between Afghanistan and the United States,” the spokesman said. If another unapproved airstrike occurs, he said, the Afghan government will view U.S. troops as part of an unwelcome “occupation.” This would tend to bring Karzai in line with the rest of the Afghan population, which has always viewed this as such.

Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.