March 12th, 2012
09:44 AM ET

Roundup: U.S. sergeant allegedly kills Afghan civilians

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

A U.S. Army Sergeant allegedly killed at least sixteen Afghan civilians (NYT) deliberately in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar Province on Sunday, prompting threats of retaliation by the Taliban. U.S. forces reportedly took the perpetrator into custody. The incident is likely to compound already strained U.S.-Afghan relations, which were pushed to new lows after it was revealed that NATO soldiers had burned Qurans at a U.S.-run air base north of Kabul. Both the U.S. and Afghan governments condemned yesterday's attack, while Western personnel in Afghanistan braced for a potentially violent backlash.

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"Early signs suggest that the repeated killings of U.S. troops had become too much for one of their own, whoapparently tried to exact his own perverse revenge, Pentagon officials theorize. Does it represent a turning point? It surely bruises, if not breaks, the trust necessary for the U.S. to continue its mission of training enough Afghan security forces to let the U.S. leave by 2015," writes TIME's Mark Thompson.

"The NATO command needs to determine what happened in Kandahar–quickly–and take remedial action to ensure it cannot happen again. Coming right after the unintentional desecration of Qurans and the deaths of several NATO soldiers from rogue Afghan soldiers, this latest tragedy will further inflame anti-foreign sentiment in Afghanistan," writes Bruce Riedel for the Daily Beast.

"If apologies are insulting to Afghan intelligence, the psychiatric argument is pathetic. Explaining the sergeant's shooting spree and the horrific killing of 16 civilians, including nine children, and badly injuring others isn't the culmination of mere mental distress," writes al-Jazeera's Marwan Bishara.


Japan Marks Year Since Earthquake and Tsunami

Japan marked Sunday the first anniversary of a devastating earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear crisis that left close to twenty thousand people dead or missing (JapanTimes). The disaster, for which recovery efforts are ongoing, triggered an international backlash against nuclear power.

One year after Japan's triple disasters, questions persist about the ability of the world's third-largest economy to rebound and how its struggling political system can mount serious reforms, writes CFR's Sheila Smith in this Expert Brief.

CHINA: The country reported a larger-than-expected trade deficit of $31.5 billion (WSJ) for February after nearly a decade of running large trade surpluses. The news came days after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao reduced China's growth target to 7.5 percent for 2012.


Pakistan Reaches Out to Militant Groups

Pakistan invited the Taliban and other militant groups to engage in peace talks if they "abandoned extremism" (AFP), offering to remove them from a list of banned militant organizations that includes al-Qaeda, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Pakistan has emerged as a terrorist sanctuary for some of the world's most violent groups, including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and homegrown militants, that threaten the stability of Pakistan as well as the region, explains this CFR Backgrounder.


Deadly Attacks on Civilians in Syria

Syrian security forces killed at least forty-five women and children (al-Jazeera) this morning in the Karm el-Zaytoun neighborhood of Homs, activists said, even as Syria's state news agency blamed the murders on "terrorist gangs." Syrian forces also launched a crackdown on in the northern Idlib province, activists reported.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: Israeli airstrikes killed two Palestinian militants (BBC) in the Gaza Strip, bringing the total number of Palestinians killed to twenty-one since violence erupted on Friday. Israel said Palestinians have fired at least 180 rockets into Israel from Gaza, wounding at least two Israelis.


Suicide Bomber Targets Church in Nigeria

A suicide bomber blew himself up in his car outside a Catholic church in the city of Jos yesterday, killing at least ten people (AP) and triggering retaliatory violence. The militant Islamist group Boko Haram was suspected of causing the incident.

Widening violence by Nigeria's Islamist group Boko Haram has caused concerns about its possible links to international terrorist groups, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

MALI: Tuareg rebels took control (Reuters) of the northern garrison town of Tessalit, forcing government soldiers and civilians to retreat toward the Algerian border.


Merkel, Lagarde Divided Over Debt Crisis

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the de facto leader of the eurozone, and IMF chief Christine Lagarde are at odds over how to address the eurozone sovereign debt crisis in the wake of a second EU bailout for Greece (NYT). Merkel has called for continued austerity on the part of indebted eurozone states, while Lagarde has pushed for a larger EU rescue fund.

The eurozone, once seen as a crowning achievement in the decades-long path of European integration, is buffeted by a sovereign debt crisis of nations whose membership in the currency union has been poorly policed, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

SLOVAKIA: The left-leaning Smer-Social Democracy party won a parliamentary vote (WSJ) over the weekend amid mounting unrest over austerity measures, paving the way for party leader Robert Fico to form a new government.


Right Wing Party Set to Win in El Salvador

The conservative opposition ARENA party (BBC) is set to narrowly win a general election that includes all seats in the national legislature and mayoral posts throughout the country.

PERU: Three hundred nude cyclists rode through the capital (Telegraph) of Lima over the weekend to protest against inadequate road safety conditions. Around 2,830 people died in traffic accidents in Peru in 2011.


Gingrich Responds to Afghan Killings

Appearing on Face the Nation (CBS), GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich responded to news Sunday that sixteen Afghan civilians were allegedly killed by a U.S. soldier, saying it was time to make major policy changes in Afghanistan, including immediate withdrawal.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum tied job creation and energy together on a Meet the Press (NBC) appearance, saying he would speed along economic recovery and create jobs by building the Keystone pipeline and approving drilling projects offshore and in Alaska.

Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy, check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.

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Topics: Afghanistan • Daily Roundup

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soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. patod

    the man was on his fourth tour (who allowed that?), and he might have been upset about the afghans who had been shooting his fellow soldiers. gave me flashbacks of what went on in Vietnam. i think it is time to bring the troops home. there are too many issues over there that we have no control over - and i don't think the nato allies who went with us into the fray would shed any tears about getting out. afghanistan has always been a formidable place, so perhaps we should bring soldiers home but keep an eye on what is going on after our absence.

    March 12, 2012 at 11:01 am | Reply
  2. jal

    Bad situation.

    March 12, 2012 at 11:27 am | Reply
    • What a huge understatement...

      I can believe a soldier in the fog of war taking out some noncombatants in a stress cracked mental state, but this guy sneaks out at wee hours of the am, and not only shoots but also burns the bodies of his victims. There is not anyway to put this into any form that works for a poor PTSD suffering soldier. Further, this act has the insanity of substance abuse written all over it; moreover, some of the most grisly attacks by seeming normal people recently in this country, are 'meth' fueled. I hope somebody has tested this guy and if so has the balls to release that information. As a veteran I am saddened to think that after all of the terror and blood shed that this war has let, that this could be part of the legacy of the attempt to help Afghanistan to it's feet.

      March 17, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    That sargeant must be out of his mind! Now the Afghans have more reasons to hate the Americans. The Taliban can't be more pleased and Karzai would love to offer himself as a white knight.

    March 12, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      Do you remember the Mi Lai massacre in Vietnam on March 16, 1968 led by Lt. William Calley, j. von hettlingen? I do and this case is eerily similar to that one then. Now they're going to use the insanity defense to get this bozo off. Moreover, pay no attention to those alligator tears being currently shed by Obama and his henchmen in Washington over this incident!!!

      March 13, 2012 at 8:30 am | Reply

    Well, I live in America and..., regardless..., I am on American side. As I watched the News Media, most of Afghan areas are the war zones-means, killing could occur anytime by any means.

    My advice for some of you, who are seating comfortably and watching what is happening in Afghanistan without being in Afghanistan, please consider your manner.
    Being in Afghanistan is not easy. The American Soldiers are always 24/7 on duty. During bed time, their Mind is not resting, their eyes are vibrating, their bodies are not resting comfortably, they are experiencing all kinds of horrible discomfort. While they are in these situations, suddenly, they faced massacred and huge lose by suicide bombers, who can not be traceable from the groups of Afghan Children and Women. Mostly, the Suicide Bombers are mixed with Children and Women. As American Soldier, you tried to save and to feed Children and Women, but soon you will loose your life by the Suicide Bomber you already feeding and protecting.

    At the past, we heard very high American Soldiers casualties by Afghan Suicide Bombers, including the Secret Agents in their Camp.
    I have a question.1) Did the Afghan President stopped the suicide Bombers evil acts??
    2) Did the Afghan President apologized, every time when the Suicide Bombers Massacred the American Soldiers and Civilian Journalists??
    3) What is the role of the Afghanistan President now? Either he have to show US with proof, if he could defend by himself the terrorists or he must serve and appreciated the best interests of American Soldiers, who are getting killed in a Daily base for the Freedom of Afghanistan People.

    The American Soldiers deserve respect by Afghan people and by International Communities as well.
    For the rest of you, who criticized the American Soldiers, SHAME ON YOU!!!
    You can not be there even for One Day.

    March 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      More right-wing bla-bla-bla being spewed on this web page. This does get old after a while! When are you going to realize the simple fact that we have no business in that country except to exploit their natural resources?

      March 13, 2012 at 8:34 am | Reply
      • 100% ETHIO

        Well, I don't think history will be forgotten easily. Here in America, History matters. The fallen Soldiers will be remembered, their Families will be respected, their stories will be recorded and will remain forever.

        March 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  5. Scott

    We are held to a higher standard. He's one of my people. Off with his head.

    March 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Reply
  6. Haileyc Faissalz

    |When I desire to place gallery or LightBox or even a slider on my website I every time try to use jQuery script in favor of that.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:38 am | Reply

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