Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, joined Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear on Thursday to discuss the recent advancements in Taliban-US negotiations and provide reasons why US forces’ continued presence is not beneficial for any of the parties involved.
Kelly told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou that while progress toward a peace agreement is vital to removing US troops from Afghanistan, the conditions - particularly the phrase “reduction in violence” - are vague and could mean a number of things. Furthermore, she said, it’s odd that representatives from Washington would negotiate such terms with Taliban officials who are located in Qatar and not Afghanistan.
“A week, seems to me, a bit of a short time,” she argued, “but would I approve of the United States bringing the troops home? Most certainly.”
At the same time, Kelly noted that Washington has a responsibility in the region and must pay reparations to the people of Afghanistan so that they can rebuild their society, which has been ravaged by unrest and corruption for nearly two decades.
A recent survey conducted by the American Institute of War and Peace Studies polled 5,038 Afghans in 38 provinces and determined, with a 5% margin of error, that 46% of those surveyed were in favor of US and NATO troops leaving Afghanistan following a peace deal. The US accounts for approximately 12,000 of the 20,000 NATO troops in the country.
While it’s not surprising that many Afghans would prefer to see foreign service members to depart their country, some may find it odd that around 33% of those who responded to the poll were in favor of the troops remaining in Afghanistan.
Kelly, however, believes the divided reponse makes sense.
“I can imagine there are sizable numbers of people who believe that their employment - their paycheck - comes from one form or another of military security forces,” she pointed out. “When you look at that huge amount of money that was devoted to reconstruction, a great percentage of that actually went into paying salaries for the Afghan local police, the Afghan national security force and various paramilitary groups have also been in the employ of various warlords.”
Kelly said that between this and a 41% unemployment rate, there is naturally a dependance on militarism and insecurity, noting that a loss of funds from these sources would impede some Afghans’ abilities to feed their families.
“I think the solution is in trying to help create jobs that would have to do with rehabilitating the agricultural infrastructure of the country,” she contended.
Kelly went on to highlight that the US troop presence and Washington’s interference in the country have brought about insider attacks within the military forces and animosity toward Afghan forces backed by the US.
She recounted that when she was in Afghanistan in September 2019, the country was rocked by news from Nangahar province that a CIA-trained Afghan paramilitary squad had severely beaten - possibly to the point of torture - and killed four brothers after breaking into their home.
While the group, later identified as the 02 Unit of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), claimed that the brothers were terrorists and had ties to Daesh, those who had known the men for years and lived in their Jalalabad neighborhood were vocal in denying the squad’s story.
"They were kind and humble people, anyone who knew them loved the boys. They were very social as well. They cared for people and also had a good sense of humor," Naqeeb Sakhizada, a neighborhood shop owner, told Al Jazeera, noting that he knew the brothers for over a decade. “How can they have any links to Daesh? It is a lie. We are all in shock and have lost faith in the government and security forces once again."
Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah later visited the family of the brothers to express his condolences, and President Ashraf Ghani pledged that an investigation into the brothers’ deaths would take place. NDS director Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai also resigned following the raid.
It’s unknown whether any further action was taken following the reported investigation into the CIA-back Afghan intelligence agency.
“It doesn’t surprise me that there would be people who’d be filled with such antagonism that they would decide to enact revenge,” Kelly concluded. “People are frustrated, don’t know where to turn and decide that they’re going to turn on the people that they see as the foreign invaders who’ve made their country less secure.”
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.