Afghan Anger Over US Strikes Grows as Election Nears

Protest leaders accuse govt of being too busy campaigning to protect civilians

32 civilians killed last week in a US airstrike against pine nut harvesters, and another 40 civilians killed Monday in US airstrikes on a wedding in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. These civilian casualties are fueling growing outrage among Afghans, who took to the streets of Lashkar Gah to protest.

Hundreds of protesters in Lashkar Gah were demonstrating, and this comes just days ahead of Saturday’s election. Mullah Amir Mohammad Akundzada accused the government of being too busy campaigning for the vote to protect civilians from bombings.

This suggests the protests are going to be a bad thing for incumbent President Ghani and his supporters, with the US defending its recent killings and Ghani seemingly doing nothing about it.

That’s been a recurring problem for Afghan governments, as locals have watched for decades as US strikes kill huge numbers of civilians, and any US accountability seems to be entirely the decision of US leadership.

That an imminent election puts pressure on Ghani to say something is part of the reason why the US is always pressuring Afghanistan to delay its elections, as it’s just easier for the existing government not to feel that they have to immediately answer to the voting public.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.