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Courting Failure in Kandahar?

April 12, 2010

al-Jazeera English reports:

At least four civilians have been killed in a Nato attack on a bus in southern Afghanistan, sparking angry anti-American protests on the streets of Kandahar city.

Nato troops opened fire on the bus in the Zhari district of Kandahar province before dawn on Monday, killing four people and injuring 18, Afghan officials said.[….]

Many Afghans took to the streets of Kandahar city after the shooting, blocking the main highway out of the city with burning tyres.

They chanted “Death to America” and called for the downfall of Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president.

“The Americans are constantly killing our civilians and the government is not demanding an explanation,” Mohammad Razaq, a local resident, said.

“We demand justice from the Karzai government and the punishment of those soldiers responsible.”

Karzai condemned the attack and asked Nato forces to take “serious precautions” to avoid further civilian casualties, expressing “deep grief” over the incident.

“This shooting involving a civilian bus violates Nato’s commitment to safeguard civilian life,” he said.

Kandahar is the target of a mass offensive planned by Nato-led forces in coming months.

Haroun Mir, a founder of the Centre for Research and Policy Studies, a think-tank based in Kabul, said the Nato shooting will spark more resentment from the Afghan people at a time when international forces need their support.

“[With] the upcoming military operation in Kandahar, the US military is making an enormous effort to win people’s hearts and minds and this incident will contradict all their efforts,” he told Al Jazeera.

“This will be a difficult task for the US military to show to the Afghan people that they are trying to protect civilians.”

This does not bode well for the upcoming operation in Kandahar that the US military has been planning for some time now.  The trumpeted success in Marjah has a lot of questions to be asked of it.  How will the US and Afghan forces fair when they attempt to do the same or similar in a vastly larger area, both geographically as well as demographically, when they make the push on Kandahar?  Not to mention that it is the spiritual home of the Taliban and the center of the Pashtun resistance within the country.  Incidents like the one reported above are almost daily occurences in the country.  I can’t imagine that no matter what development, security, or aid is supplied by NATO forces in the country that it can in any way compete in the minds of the population with the daily horrors of an occupation.  I don’t foresee good things for the Afghan people in the coming months, nor for the military planners of the occupation.

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