01:31 GMT +308 December 2019
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    Members of a breakaway faction of the Taliban militants walk during a gathering, in Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan. File photo

    ‘Abusive’ US Treatment of Afghans Has ‘Exacerbated’ Warfare in Afghanistan

    © AP Photo / Allauddin Khan
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    Two college instructors held hostage by the Taliban for three years were freed on Tuesday in exchange for three high-level Taliban militants being turned over to Qatari authorities. However, Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, told Radio Sputnik that US treatment of Afghan prisoners has exacerbated the war.

    “It seems to me that we have to always recognize that the US is one of the warlords in this sordid and unfortunate long warfare in Afghanistan. I myself am relieved to know that the US and the Australian professor are released, and I imagine it’s wonderful for their families. But I also think the US must simply recognize and acknowledge the many, many ways that the US treatment of Afghans, including prisoners, has exacerbated and continued warfare,” Kelly told Loud and Clear hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker. 

    US citizen Kevin King, 63, and Australian citizen Timothy Weeks, 50, were both instructors at the American University of Afghanistan in the capital city of Kabul when they were kidnapped in 2016. The three Taliban militants who were released are Mali Khan, Hafiz Rashid and Anas Haqqani. All three were high-level commanders of the Haqqani network, an Afghan insurgent group accused of attacking Afghan and foreign installations as well as kidnapping foreigners, the Washington Post reported.

    “The Taliban have indicated that the release of the two professors is intended as a goodwill gesture, which the United States welcomes,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Tuesday, the Washington Post reported.

    “It’s crucial to recognize that there have been many different warlords operative in Afghanistan,” the activist told Sputnik. “Not only do US abuses that have been committed by US troops, or to take for instance, the drone attack on pine nut harvesters in the Nangarhar province - this prompts desires for revenge and retaliation.”

    “But also just the presence of US military bases and forward operating bases was taken advantage of by all kinds of warlords who would say to the US, ‘Look you need to get food, fuel and water into that base. You need our protection.’ It was like rope-a-dope. These were protection rackets that were organized by warlords who used US presence either to finagle attacks against their own enemies or to be paid in order to secure the roads when in fact, oftentimes, this is actually contributing to the coffers of the Taliban and other warlords,” Kelly added.

    Kelly also referred to US President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on Daesh being defeated in Syria and Afghanistan as “premature.”

    “I am convinced that when people learn of massacres and attacks, and their own relatives or people from their own clans, which can be very extended, have been affected - that doesn't evaporate. People look for ways to enact revenge and retaliation, and sometimes there are people who have been trained to be fighters … and they don’t have any other opportunity for employment, especially in Afghanistan. So if there’s another warlord or another group, they’ll just change the flag sometimes and join up. I think, given the violence and chaos and impoverishment that’s been engendered in Afghanistan, it’s too easy to say, ‘Oh, we’ve taken care of that,’” Kelly noted.

    “I doubt that the Taliban would accept the ongoing presence of the US military bases rent-free in the agreement that they have right now. However, we should keep in mind that a bilateral security agreement was signed with the Afghan government which does apply for this continuation of US bases,” she said.

    “Peace of Afghanistan - I think one of the most important requirements is putting people back to work with livable wages and being able to survive without dependence on warlords.”

    The Taliban and the US have been trying to reach a peace deal that would include the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and assurances from the Taliban that the country will not be used as a safe haven for terrorists. The US has long insisted that the Afghan government take part in the peace negotiations, but the Taliban considers the government a puppet of Washington, and has repeatedly stated that it is the only stakeholder in Afghanistan that will deal with the US.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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