World View: Death of Palestinian Prisoner Threatens Third Intifada Against Israel

This morning's key headlines from

  • Afghanistan's Karzai expels U.S. special forces from province
  • Death of Palestinian prisoner threatens third intifada against Israel
  • West Bank demonstrations are not yet a third intifada
  • Historical analogy: 1936 Spain to Syria today

Afghanistan's Karzai expels U.S. special forces from province

Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai has ordered that U.S. special forces immediately end all operations in Wardak province, the province adjacent to the capital city Kabul, and that they be expelled within two weeks. According to a presidential spokesman:

"In today’s national security council meeting… President Karzai ordered the ministry of defense to kick out the US special forces from Wardak province within two weeks.

The US special forces and illegal armed groups created by them are causing insecurity, instability, and harass local people in this province."

The charges are not specifically targeted at U.S. forces themselves, but rather at Afghan national forces that work with the Americans and under the direction of the Americans. According to Karzai's spokesman:

"After a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as US special force[s] stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people.

A recent example in the province is an incident in which nine people were disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force and in a separate incident a student was taken away at night from his home, whose tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge.

However, Americans reject having conducted any such operation and any involvement of their special force. The meeting strongly noted that such actions have caused local public resentment and hatred. ...

There are some individuals, some Afghans, who are working within these cells, within these [US] special forces groups. But they are part of US special forces according to our sources and according to our local officials working in the province."

According to a U.S. forces spokesman:

"We take all allegations of misconduct seriously and go to great lengths to determine the facts surrounding them.

Until we have had a chance to speak with senior (Afghan) officials about this issue we are not in a position to comment further. This is an important issue that we intend to fully discuss with our Afghan counterparts."

The expulsion of U.S. forces has come as a surprise, and it's not entirely clear who the "Afghans, who are working ... within these [US] special forces groups" actually are. There has been growing friction between Karzai and the U.S. forces, against a backdrop of discussions of how many, if any, foreign troops will remain in Afghanistan after Nato's exit in 2014. BBC and AFP

Death of Palestinian prisoner threatens third intifada against Israel

There had already been several weeks or demonstrations in the West Bank protesting the detention of some 4,500 Palestinians in Israeli jails, but the sudden death of Palestinian Arafat Jaradat while being held in an Israeli jail has threatened to push the demonstrations to a boiling point. Jaradat, a gas station attendant and married father of two small children, was arrested on February 18 for throwing rocks and firebombs at Israelis near Hebron. The apparent cause of death was a heart attack, but following an Israeli autopsy observed by a Palestinian doctor, Palestinian officials say that Jaradat's body was bruised and showed signs of being beaten on the chest, back, arms and mouth and had two broken ribs, implying that "severe torture" led to the heart attack and Jaradat's death. According to an Israeli military commentator, Jaradat's death may become "the opening shot" in a third intifada. Palestinian officials are demanding that the United Nations investigate Jaradat's death and conditions in Israeli prisons. Jerusalem Post and LA Times

West Bank demonstrations are not yet a third intifada

Analysts are questioning whether the West Bank protests are anywhere near a third intifada. The first intifada occurred in 1987, with Palestinians throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), blocking roads and burning tires. The IDF was totally unprepared for the protests, and the IDF was blamed for brutality. The second intifada occurred in 2000, when thousands of Palestinians clashed with the IDF, and once again the army lost control of the situation. In contrast, this Sunday's protests involved 100-200 Palestinians throwing rocks at soldiers in a few locations, and the IDF quickly dispersed the protesters. However, the fear is that a new spark could cause the situation to deteriorate rapidly. Jerusalem Post and Haaretz

Historical analogy: 1936 Spain to Syria today

For those who enjoy historical analogies, here's one from George Will on Sunday's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos":

"No analogy is perfect, but go back to the Spanish civil war that began in 1936. By the time it got in full-blown proportions, there was no happy choice. It was going to be the communists who were going to control Spain or Franco was going to control Spain. And we may be at that point in Syria."

Will's point is that just as Spain was going to be controlled by the Fascist Francisco Franco or by the communists, Syria today is going to be controlled either by the Fascist Bashar al-Assad or by al-Qaeda linked terrorists.

There seems to be a growing feeling that the West has waited too long to intervene in Syria. In this view, if the West had intervened as soon as the al-Assad began his bloodbath, then it might have been possible to force al-Assad out and turn the government into a democracy. This is probably a fantasy, but the feeling persists. And the Russians are particularly being blamed from allowing this situation to arise by blocking all Western attempts to intervene. ABC News

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