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The Killid Group
Not our war says ISAF spokesman
Saturday, 20 August 2011 10:51
Violence is at its worst in Afghanistan since US troops ousted the Taleban regime in 2001 and started a new round of fighting in Afghanistan. Killid Radio interviewed Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, spokesperson of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on the spike in civilian casualties, the ability of the insurgents to strike at will, and the future of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign troops. The German career soldier considers the Afghan conflict a civil war and is optimistic. "The people of Afghanistan will win the war against insurgents and we will support them in winning it." Excerpts from the interview:
Killid: Civilian casualties have increased this year, the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported recently. What is the reason?
Carsten Jacobson: We are not in agreement with every aspect of the UNAMA report. What is important is that we agree with the tendencies that it shows … that the vast majority of civilian casualties are caused by the insurgency and amongst the casualties again the maximum are caused by reckless planting of improvised explosive devices, which are responsible for nearly 70 percent of civilians killed. Unfortunately there are civilian casualties where ISAF is responsible and we are thoroughly investigating every single case.
Killid: Do you agree that civilians are stuck in the middle of an insurgents, NATO, United States and Afghan government war?
CJ: Unfortunately the insurgents' way of fighting makes this a civil war, which is fought among the people and therefore (it) claims civilian lives. ISAF's prime mission is to protect people and bring security and stability. That is what we are aiming for and that is what we are doing, wherever we can, however we can do it.
Killid: If at some point the US forces were to say we are done with this war, we are withdrawing our troops, what are your major concerns about the return of Taliban and the future?
CJ: The international community has committed itself to support Afghanistan (create) a secure future. The (world's) leading statesmen, the president of the Unites States, the government of Great Britain, Germany have made it clear that we won't give up our commitment to the future of Afghanistan when we reduce combat forces by the end of 2014. And as ISAF we are optimistic that (by end-2014) we would have built up the capability of the Afghan national security forces to deal with problems and that we would have made good progress, if not defeated, the insurgency.
Killid: George W. Bush the former US president, and other high ranking US and NATO officials had after the death of Osama Bin Laden said the threat which had existed is no more. What are the major threats the international community is fighting against in Afghanistan?
CJ: The people of Afghanistan and people of the international community have a common interest - it is in our interest that never again terrorists will have the chance to train and prepare on the soil and in the borders of Afghanistan to attack the world. The people of Afghanistan have the interest that those who did not allow women to go to school, who did not allow people to listen to radios, who did not build hospitals, and who are now killing people with indiscriminate bombs should not come back to power - so our interests are side by side. The international community is here to make life safe for the average Afghan, once this job is done we will go home.
Killid: What can you say about the Afghan-US Strategic Partnership Agreement?
CJ: I am not speculating about the future of cooperation between the US government and the government of Afghanistan, but we have to see what negotiation is resulting. US ambassador has been very clear in his earlier statement, what he thinks this cooperation will be like. One thing is very clear that the leading statesmen of the international community have said that we would not leave Afghanistan alone after 2014. We would not leave you alone like we did in 1990. And I hope that this help would be less and less in military field.
Killid: Taleban have widened the areas under their control. Do you think U.S and NATO will win this war or have you lost it?
CJ: The people of Afghanistan will win this war and we will support them in winning it. ISAF and the international community will support the Afghan people in winning the war, but the Afghans would win the campaign against insurgency. The number of incidents this year has risen when it comes to the use of IED, roadside bombs and killing innocents. The spring offensive the Taliban were talking about did not materialise, and the land the Taliban lost in the course of the winter operation has not been retaken.
Killid: After the US Chinook helicopter crashed in Maidan Wardak, coalition forces have laid siege to two areas around the crash site. Families cannot leave their houses to bring water for their children. A woman went out to bring water for her family and she was shot dead by US forces. Killid contacted the local population and they confirmed the restrictions and the incident. Why do you do this?
CJ: We have no confirmation whether the aircraft was shot down, or there are any restrictions (on civilians). We are securing the site of the crash. Like any other aircraft accident it will take time to find out what caused it. We do grieve the death of so many young Afghans and Americans. As soon as the remains of the accident are removed from the area, life will return to normal in the area. That will be as soon as possible. The losses (suffered) by the ANA show that they are side by side with the international forces on every operation.