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Kimberly Dozier reports that the U.S. is pressuring Afghanistan to investigate illegal killings by the Afghan army and other security forces.

The White House has called on the Afghan government to investigate up to 15 suspected cases of illegal killings by its security forces—with seven incidents this year, according to U.S. and Afghan officials in Kabul and Washington.

The incidents occurred in units in virtually every regional area of Afghanistan, with two of this year’s alleged extrajudicial killings reported by U.S. soldiers who witnessed the events, one of the officials said. The seven incidents were winnowed from more than 30 suspected cases, with a cluster of the reports concentrated in eastern Afghanistan and units of the 201st Corps near Kabul, which just received human rights training, several U.S. officials said.

The officials said many of the suspicious killings were reported by locals or Afghan soldiers themselves, in units that U.S. troops had largely left as part of their staged departure in preparation for an almost complete troop drawdown by the end of 2016 that could be accelerated to a drawdown by the end of this year, if an Afghan president isn’t chosen in time to sign a security agreement with the U.S.

Afghan Army Killings Threaten U.S. Aid, Daily Beast

Under the Leahy amendment and other laws, the U.S. cannot fund or provide assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity.
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Lotfullah Najafizada, of Tolo News, has an opinion piece for the BBC, on the success and the future funding of the Afghan army and other security forces.

The 352,000-strong Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have engaged with the Taliban and other insurgent groups 150 times a day during the 2014 summer fighting season.

The fight is tough, the ANSF sacrifices are immense, but the Taliban - backed by foreign fighters in the battlefield this year - are not taking control of districts and small towns, let alone cities and populated areas. This is in direct contrast to the dire predictions of some, who foresaw that the Taliban would retake districts less than 24 hours after the departure of foreign troops.

Viewpoint: How Nato can help make Afghan forces sustainable, BBC

The very high casualty rates in Afghan security forces are recognized.
Fewer casualties on the part of Western troops is not an indication that the war is over and the enemy has been defeated. The heat is instead being taken by Afghan troops: a minimum of 15 Afghan forces have died each day during this year's fighting season and there are insurgent-related incidents every day across 20 Afghan provinces - almost two thirds of the country.
Afghan police are particularly vulnerable and have the highest casualty rates. Najafizada says that the police should be more highly militarized, for the task of the police of waging war.
The Afghan police force - nearly half of the entire ANSF - lacks sufficient weapons to fight the well-equipped Taliban.

The Taliban are equipped with rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), mortar shells, machine guns and intelligence support from the regional countries. Our police force - in the frontline of the war similar to the army - only has AK47s, most of which are unreliable on the battlefield.

Lola Cecchinel reports in detail on Taliban gains in northern Kunduz province.

Within the past two months, the Taleban have managed to secure additional territory around the provincial capital of Kunduz and have been closing in on the city itself. They also gained nearly full control over several districts of the province. On 12 August and then again around 22 August, the ANSF conducted operations. Authorities claimed they were successful in the most contested areas. However, ANSF cleaning operations have regularly proven unsustainable in the province.

Taleban Closing in on the City: The next round of the tug-of-war over Kunduz, Afghanistan Analysts Network

The election crisis, with Abdullah supporters threatening civil war, may have distracted from the fight with the Taliban.
Interviewed by the author in late June, Mir Alam said he was in an “emergency mode”, ready to mobilise his network of commanders and militias if he should be called upon by Abdullah to “reject the results of the elections.”

Since then, the security has continued to deteriorate in all of Kunduz’ provinces. With local power brokers distracted by electoral power plays and the population frustrated by the political deadlock, the Taleban launched intense, continuous offensives

Afghan Local Police, which are sometimes abusive and factional units, are dealing with a potential loss of funding.
An ALP member salary (about 9,200 Afghani per month – less than 200 Dollars) “does not even cover for three meals a day and the wood to warm up in winter,” ALP members say. Many of them use this argument to justify collecting ‘taxes’ from the local population (see also here). The ALP is equipped with light weapons, but often falls short of ammunition, communication devices and material to rebuild damaged checkposts. In addition, the author found in interviews that there are anxieties among ALP members in Kunduz about how much longer the ALP program might exist. Plans are to keep the force at least until 2017, but on the ground this does not seem to be known. Many hope that the ALP will be integrated into the regular security forces, but others already think about surrendering to the Taleban in order to secure their survival.
People are caught between the Taliban and abusive government militias.
It is hard to say who the local people fear more, though: their ‘defenders’ – ALP and other militias – or the Taleban themselves. According to a resident, shortly before the elections, many houses in the area were looted by Mir Alam’s commanders, including Commander Qadirak. As residents had feared what the Taleban might do to them on election day, they fled the area, only to return and find their houses ransacked by Mir Alam’s militias. Qadirak (an ethnic Aymaq), along with fellow commanders Faizak and Navidak (both Tajik) and Matinak (Hazara), has also been responsible for the killing of dozens across Kunduz province over the past two years. The three and their men roam the Pashtun pockets of the Kunduz outskirts as well as Khanabad district where they make a living collecting ushr from the farmers.

The BBC has an interview with Commander Mirwais, a Hezb-i Islami affiliated insurgent in northern Baghlan province.

In the end our Afghan cameraman had to go and see Commander Mirwais on his own.

At the appointed spot on a side road off the main northbound road out of Pul-e-Khumri, the commander emerged from the darkness, accompanied by a group of heavily armed bodyguards.

He turned out to be a rational figure, frank about his ideas and aims. But they were uncomfortable to Western ears.

"Our struggle was mainly against the Americans, and thank God they were forced to run away. But we will continue to fight until we establish an Islamic state," he said

Afghan militants Hezb-e-Islami 'may join Islamic State', BBC

BBC plays up some rather tentative talk, by the Afghan commander, about ISIS, in their reporting.
"We know Daish and we have links with some Daish members. We are waiting to see if they meet the requirements for an Islamic caliphate," Commander Mirwais said.

"If we find they do, we are sure that our leadership will announce their allegiance to them. They are great mujahideen. We pray for them, and if we don't see a problem in the way they operate, we will join them."

A NATO meeting in Wales starts tomorrow. Contrary to previous hopes, no Afghan president or candidate for president will be there.

A gathering of leaders from NATO countries this week was supposed to be an opportunity to celebrate the close of the alliance’s long war in Afghanistan and to embrace the country’s new president.

But it’s hard to have a party without the guest of honor.

Despite smiling promises to Secretary of State John F. Kerry last month, two rival candidates to succeed Afghan President Hamid Karzai have failed to resolve a disagreement over a review of disputed election results in time to declare a winner. As a result, there will be no Afghan head of state at the NATO summit in Wales

At summit meant to embrace new Afghan leader, guest of honor is missing, Washington Post

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