Added At: 2012-04-19 10:32 PM
Last Updated At: 2012-04-19 10:32 PM
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
KABUL: Photographs of US troops abusing corpses, coming on top of a series of outrages this year, are likely to fuel anti-US anger in Afghanistan — and a desire in NATO countries to get out of an unpopular war.
Taliban insurgents, as always, seized on the latest scandal — exposed by the Los Angeles Times — to condemn the ‘brutal and inhuman act by the American invading forces’ and vowed revenge.
There was also some anger on the streets of Kabul, but mass anti-US protests are seen as unlikely and the biggest effect of the pictures may be in NATO countries, where polls show the long war is increasingly viewed with distaste. “In the West there was this strong idea that of course the troops came to fight terrorism but also came to help and to rebuild the country,” said Martine van Bijlert of the Afghan Analysts’ Network. “Incidents like this will feed into feelings at home of ‘What are we doing here?’,” she told AFP.
“For the Afghans, it does confirm how people increasingly feel about the international and US troops — ‘that they don’t really care about us, that they don’t treat us with respect’.”
Every month this year a fresh scandal has rocked the alliance between the US and the government of President Hamid Karzai in their joint efforts against Taliban insurgents.
In January, a video showed US Marines urinating on Taliban corpses; in February US soldiers burned copies of the Koran; and in March a US soldier went on the rampage and murdered 17 villagers in their homes.
Now the Los Angeles Times has published pictures taken in 2010 showing soldiers posing with insurgents’ bodies, one with a dead man’s hand draped on his shoulder.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said those responsible would be punished but voiced ‘regret’ that the newspaper had published the images against the Pentagon’s wishes, warning that they could prompt a violent backlash.
“The US soldiers who posed for pictures with the Afghan insurgents show that they didn’t come to Afghanistan to deliver services for us,” said Obaidullah (20), an unemployed high-school graduate in Kabul.
“Instead such actions will force Afghans to rise against them.”
But an immediate violent response by ordinary Afghans was seen as unlikely.
Karzai calls for early transition
KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Thursday for an ‘accelerated’ transition of security responsibilities from NATO forces in the wake of a scandal over US troops abusing Afghan corpses. “The only way to put an end to such painful experiences is through an accelerated and full transition of security responsibilities to Afghan forces,” his office said in a statement.
Pictures published by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday showed US soldiers posing with the remains of Taliban insurgents, one of them with a man’s hand draped over his shoulder. Karzai condemned the pictures as ‘inhumane and provocative’. “It is such a disgusting act to take photos with body parts and then share it with others,” said the Afghan president.