Afghan president orders US Special Forces to leave Wardak province


President Hamid Karzai has ordered the Ministry of Defense to eject all "US Special Forces" from the key eastern province of Wardak after accusing the American troops or their local Afghan security partners of committing war crimes. Karzai's order is an ominous development for future US and NATO plans, which are expected to rely heavily on special operations forces to take on a greater role as the bulk of conventional forces are withdrawn from Afghanistan.

"Today, the National Security Council ordered the Ministry of Defense to remove American Special Forces within two weeks from Wardak province," Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi told reporters, according to TOLONews.

"A recent example in the province is an incident in which nine people were disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force and in a separate incident a student was taken away at night from his home, whose tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge," he added.

US Forces - Afghanistan, an ISAF subcommand under which some US Special Forces operate, said it was aware of the statement attributed to Karzai and that it is investigating the allegations.

US special operations forces often partner with local Afghan security forces, such as the Afghan Local Police (ALP) at the village level. President Karzai has generally opposed the ALP, and some Afghans fear the local units, currently totaling 19,600 officers and often accused of corruption (as are more traditional Afghan government security forces), will foster a return to warlordism.

Karzai's directive for "US Special Forces" to withdraw from Wardak comes as NATO is working to negotiate and finalize plans for its force structure in Afghanistan after combat forces are withdrawn by the end of 2014. Various draft proposals and statements by US personnel and NATO partners have indicated that a force of 8,000 to 15,500 NATO troops, comprised of up to 9,500 Americans, could remain in Afghanistan. The residual mission is expected to be structured around training Afghan security forces and the continuation of counterterrorism operations targeting high value enemies. Both tasks rely heavily on US Special Forces (a designation precisely indicating the US Army "Green Berets") as well as the broader category of all US special operations forces.

Wardak is a troubled province

Wardak province, which borders Kabul to the southwest, has been contested by the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, the al Qaeda-linked Taliban subgroup, despite US efforts to secure the province over the past several years. The Taliban have been in control of the Tangi Valley, which runs through Wardak, since the withdrawal of US forces from Combat Outpost Tangi in the spring of 2011. US troops turned over the base to the Afghan Army, which immediately abandoned it. The Taliban later released a videotape that showed hundreds of fighters and senior Taliban leaders massing at the abandoned base and conducting a tour.

Wardak has been the scene of numerous high-profile attacks by the two groups, particularly in 2011. The Taliban shot down a US Army Chinook helicopter in Sayyidabad on Aug. 6, 2011. Thirty-eight US and Afghan troops, including 17 US Navy SEALS from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, were killed in the crash. And on Sept. 10, 2011, the Taliban detonated a massive suicide bomb outside of Combat Outpost Sayyidabad, killing four Afghans and wounding more than 100 people, including 77 US soldiers. US commanders later blamed the attack on the Haqqani Network, a powerful al Qaeda subgroup.

Al Qaeda is also known to maintain a presence in Wardak province. The presence of terror cells has been detected in the districts of Maidan Shah, Sayyidabad, and Tarnek Wa Jaldak, or three of the province's eight districts. On Nov. 18, 2011, special operations forces killed Mujib Rahman Mayar, an Afghan member of al Qaeda. Mayar "trained insurgents and worked as a courier" for the terror group, ISAF stated after his death. "He delivered messages and transported money for the al Qaeda network."



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READER COMMENTS: "Afghan president orders US Special Forces to leave Wardak province"

Posted by Jim Cornelius at February 24, 2013 2:45 PM ET:

Ominous indeed. This smacks of "pseudo" ops by Taliban/AQ. Tortured body with throat cut found under a bridge...???

Posted by Andrew R. at February 24, 2013 3:00 PM ET:

There are times when I wonder if Karzai is either actively trying to lose or hoping that his outspoken criticisms of American policy will allow him to escape Najibullah's fate in the event of a Taliban victory.

Posted by Rosario at February 24, 2013 3:04 PM ET:

From the LA TImes:

But Sardar Mohammad Zazai, the police chief for Wardak province, said in an interview that although a team of police investigators had been assigned to look into the allegations, "I don't have an evidence in hand in regard to this issue."

http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-afghan-president-orders-us-special-forces-out-20130224,0,7278195.story

Perhaps aides did not fill Mr. Karzai's pipe today.

Posted by gb at February 24, 2013 3:07 PM ET:

Time to abandon this wasteland....good luck karzai

Posted by KaneKaizer at February 24, 2013 3:39 PM ET:

We're not even taking the fight to the Taliban or al Qaeda anymore. The day we start taking orders from some swine like Karzai is the day we should leave. I sure won't be upset when we leave and the Taliban capture Karzai and torture him to death, castrate him, and hang him from a traffic light in Kabul.

Posted by mike merlo at February 24, 2013 4:39 PM ET:

'this' is nothing but cover for a no-holds-barred pacification effort on the part of the Afghan Government. They realize that for them to neutralize Wardak to their satisfaction they cannot have any potential International observers present in the province. The Afghan Government realizes that to prevent a repeat of what happened in & around Kabul during the 90's Civil War both Wardak & Logar must both be 'pacified.' Welcome to the 'Afghan Way.'

Posted by blert at February 24, 2013 6:58 PM ET:

Jim Cornelius...

I'd say you nailed on the first pass.

The opfor has been caught, time, and time again, wearing ISAF uniforms to conduct atrocities.

The ANP is known for shaking down families -- not executions.

(They run a 'car prison.' It's made international news. It's their version of the 'Denver boot.')

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheel_clamp

Karzai seems to be addicted to his own national exports.

As for Wardak: it figures to be the launching pad for all future opfor gambits against Kabul.

It's attractive because of it's non-vehicular terrain -- with the notable exception of motorcycle tracks.

Posted by Dave at February 24, 2013 7:52 PM ET:

Phoenix Program redux? (You children out there can review on Wikipedia, but note that most citations are to rabid anti-war types of that era, given to total bs.)

Phoenix as conducted by our South Vietnamese allies was actually very effective, a winning strategy, until our current Secretary of State (the winner of a Silver Star for Pete's sake) branded all American troops as war criminals in front of a subcommittee of Congress. And whereupon the Congress, ignoring the sacrifices of 2.5 million young Americans, handed the country over to a beaten North Vietnam.

But I digress. Any similarities between Karzai and our current Secreatary of State are purely coincidental. And surely not instructive to the present administration.

Posted by CincSac at February 24, 2013 8:11 PM ET:

I guess we're getting too close to Karzai's other constituents. Just as well - we need to get ALL the boots out of there now! Let the CIA and Obama's drones keep things in check.

Posted by mike merlo at February 24, 2013 8:56 PM ET:

@Dave
little late for pushing Phoenix. Steele was already in Iraq a few years ago

Posted by arvadadan at February 25, 2013 2:15 AM ET:

Maybe Karzai has enough in his Swiss account to get out and retire.

Posted by J House at February 25, 2013 11:35 AM ET:

Mark my words....in less than 36 months, Karzai and his extended corrupt family will all be living in their mansions in Dubai as the Taliban overrun Kabul. It is going to be ugly.
By that time, our President will be generating $200k a speech in places like...Dubai.

Posted by Infidel4LIFE at February 25, 2013 1:08 PM ET:

Karzai will take the $$ and RUN when we leave. There is nothing to win there, I would hate to see my son killed there when we know we are leaving. Karzai is unreliable and a THIEF.

Posted by Mr T at February 25, 2013 4:23 PM ET:

A "student"? As soon as I read that, I know the story is a lie. Karzai continually slaps up on the back of the head. We should pull out all the troops he wants out and all the troops he doesn't want out and say Argo to yourself.

If I were the Taliban, I would be dusting off the plans I used to take over 12 years ago and start the logistics. Next year I regain control of Kabul and I leverage the defeat of the US to pump up the global jihad starting with the nukes in Pakistan.

Truth does not matter to the Taliban. They will spin this to their great advantage and we will be left holding the bag. Meanwhile the rest of the world stands around and waits for the US to protect them again, or give them foreign aid, or both. All the time slapping us in the back of the head.

Posted by SlayerMill at February 25, 2013 5:10 PM ET:

Andrew R.
I'm going to have to agree with your latter theory. Show's how naive Karzai is too, because the first chance the Taliban gets to take Karzai out, they'll surely take. Karzai is the definition of what Wahhabi, and Wahhabi-style jihadist groups label as an apostate, western puppet. Not only has Karzai "worked" with the Western nations over the years, if one can say that with straight face, but he pilfered the coffers of his people the entire time while he did it. If Karzai believes any of this has gone over the heads of the Taliban, he's in for a rude awakening. His overt attempts over the past few years to appease the Taliban aren't going to mean a thing once NATO forces leave the cesspit the rest of the world calls Afghanistan either. Like Najibullah, Karzai will likely share his fate of castration, being dragged behind a truck, then publicly hung. Any hope of stabilizing Afghanistan tragically died on September 9th, 2001 with the unfortunate murder of Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Posted by SlayerMill at February 25, 2013 5:20 PM ET:

Arvadadan.
I'm sure Karzai is approaching Yasser Arafat status when it comes to hidden funds stolen from his people. He can thank the unaccountability of billions in U.S/ borrowed money from China, thrown into rebuilding the infrastructure of Afghanistan too. Should Karzai escape Najibullah's fate, he can probably live a nice comfy life in Londonistan, England, I'm sure they'll be glad to have him.

Posted by blert at February 25, 2013 6:55 PM ET:

"...in a separate incident a student was taken away at night from his home, whose tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge."

Throat slitting is the ancient vendetta against someone who talked too much.

Such vengeance is typical of the Taliban or criminal gangs.

As for the missing... grabbing hostages -- in the night -- is a common opfor tactic. When done, they wear stolen ISAF uniforms, even to the point of having night vision equipment.

(If it wasn't for our uniforms, the opfor wouldn't have any uniforms to wear at all.)

As to how they're getting their hands on night vision gear: ISI, anyone?

Posted by blert at February 26, 2013 3:38 PM ET:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hc7RO-_2UaM

^^^^ The above public relations video by NATO/ ISAF is relevant.

In the middle of the night, nine, and only nine, military aged males were apprehended by ANA + Norwegian commandos working in Wardak province.

At every step of the way, they were under direct control of the Afghan National Government.

It's a most curious coincidence.

Karzai might have committed a blunder.

Posted by Nic at March 2, 2013 10:02 AM ET:

The irony is that we are the ones keeping him in power. When things get too hot for Karzai, he will insist with equal strength that we get him out of the country and give him a place to live. I am going to exercise my right to a SWAG and say that he is getting some of our aid money out of the country so that he can live a comfortable life in the U.S. So, bin Laden is dead, the U.S. is nearly broke, lets get out now and make Karzai happy.

Posted by Brandon Scott at March 4, 2013 6:34 AM ET:

Karzai Departure: I believe Karzai is surely out of there either way come election time, he will retain some residence with high security in Kabul while keeping a place in the likes of Dubai or better yet, India, where many of these Afghan guys can go and live 5 times the life they would in Dubai due to the economic price differences.

Karzai's IO Compaign: I understand he must hedge his bets and keep and "Afghan" image by talking smack to to and about the Coalition Forces but as many fo you stated, it just seems to get out of hand at some points.

Wardak: I am confident US SOF forces did not commit these attrocities that the spin karzai has brought on illustrates. I am also confident that it is unlikely he truly referred to not only the people of Wardak but the actual stakeholders there in Wardak. What his end game with this move is I am interested to see.

Posted by BOX at March 4, 2013 11:39 PM ET:

Karzai,could be trying to gain face,as of now he is a eunuch.