American forces bombed three homes in the Sangin district of southern Helmand province, martyring more than 20 people, 11 of whom are from the same family. The fatalities included wife and children of a man who had been killed in an explosion two years ago.
Afghan officials and the NATO Resolute Support Mission (RSM) have said they will investigate claims of civilian casualties in Sangin, a usual position taken by foreign troops after every incident of Afghan civilian deaths, whose findings never coincide with realities.
Considered as the main bone of contention between ex-President Hamid Karzai and the United States, civilian casualties involving international troops have dramatically soared following former US President Barack Obama’s order giving the US military more powers and broader role in Afghanistan and allowing US forces to return to battlefield by conducting ground operations and airstrikes more proactively.
The difference between the previous government and the incumbent government, particularly the president, is that the latter keeps tightlipped over Afghan civilian deaths. Since taking office, President Ghani has never condemned the killing of Afghans by American troops, and he even cannot dare to speak out against such atrocities, let alone to ask the United States for explanation. The president acts as if Americans have an authorization to kill all Afghans and that no one reserves the right to question them.
Whether accept it or not, Afghan civilian casualties are a major driver of Afghan conflict. Such incident offers the militants and terrorist outfits an opportunity to recruit hundreds of fighters from families affected or not. As justice is not delivered for families of the victims of such incidents and the perpetrators don’t face the music, members of the affected families are left with one option, to exact their revenge on the killers. Mostly importantly, since the bereaved people are unable to target the main culprits of these incidents who are Americans, they wreak vengeance on their fellow Afghans.
Given that factor and for the survival of the government, the National Unity Government (NUG) in general and the president specifically should try to prevent civilian casualties in attacks carried out by foreign troops. If they cannot do so, they can at least denounce such incidents to control public ire and resentment.