Kim Sengupta: Afghan killings are a boost for the insurgents – and for Karzai

The recent deaths in Afghanistan have been used for the expediencies of realpolitik

Share
Related Topics

The murders of 16 civilians by a US serviceman were the latest in a chain of extremely violent incidents coming at a fraught time for the Afghan mission, and when there is again rising tension between President Hamid Karzai and his Western sponsors. The two recent episodes – the burning of Korans by US officials at Bagram airbase last month and yesterday's killings in Kandahar – could not have been foreseen. One was an act of stupidity and the other the work of someone apparently deranged.

But they are an immense propaganda boost to the insurgents and add to the alienation of the population, many of whom are susceptible to conspiracy theories of foreign forces secretly engineering these treacherous acts. The outbreak of strife which followed the Koran burnings, with Afghan soldiers turning their guns on their Western allies, illustrated the ferocity of this conviction.

President Karzai is viewed by Western officials as doing little to calm feelings. Yesterday he described the shootings in Kandahar by the lone soldier as "intentional murders by US forces". At the same time he wants to ban night operations against the Taliban, seen as vital by US and UK commanders.

Last week also saw the deaths of six British soldiers, the most killed in one attack in the war, in an area that had supposedly been cleared. There have been other high fatalities in single incidents. Five members of the forces were blown up in Sangin and five more killed by an Afghan policeman at Nad-e-Ali. But these were in 2009, when territory was being wrested back from the Taliban. Deaths now are in a mission which will soon rapidly start winding down as the West rushes for the exit door in 2014.

The Government's position remains that the troops are there to prevent bombs going off in the streets of the UK. The fact remains that the vast majority of terrorist plots uncovered in this country are connected to Pakistan, not Afghanistan. There is a case for arguing one needs forces in Afghanistan to prevent it returning to ungoverned space and a terrorist training ground. But this has less credence when the US and UK are not just scrambling to get out, but keen to hold talks with the Taliban about their role in the country's future. Meanwhile, the recent deaths in Afghanistan are used for the expediencies of realpolitik. After French troops were killed by their Afghan comrades, Nicolas Sarkozy threatened to pull his forces out immediately. This, however, was for home consumption with elections coming up. Karzai, too, has sought to use what has happened for his own purposes. There is widespread suspicion in Afghanistan that the President wants to run for a third term; being seen to be standing up to the West, his supporters believe, will do him no harm.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands in Shanghai  

Is Russia and China’s ‘Nato of the East’ more than a Potemkin alliance?

Nigel Morris
A petition calling for Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party, to be included has been signed by nearly 200,000 people  

Let me list the reasons that the Green Party should definitely not be allowed into the TV election debates...

Mark Steel
US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines