President Barack Obama's condolence call to the Afghan President following the tragic incident will hardly appease the anger of the Afghans who may have had enough of such incidents. Night raids and 'accidental' strikes on convoys not to forget the rogue American soldiers' infamous Kill Team were not bad enough that an incident like this had to occur, exacerbating an already tense situation. Only recently have the violent protests that erupted after the burning of the copies of the Holy Quran at Bagram Air base died down. The anger among the Afghans over what they feel is an increasingly disrespectful and callous attitude of the foreign forces is growing by leaps and bounds. This has naturally played to the advantage of the insurgents who have not left any opportunity to remind the people of the scant disregard the US/Nato soldiers have for their lives and religious beliefs.
The Kandahar massacre has already seen the Taleban vowing revenge as the US prepares to counter reprisal attacks in the country. While this does compound the already fragile security threat on ground, what is more at risk is the plans for future US presence in the country. Negotiations between Kabul and Washington over the finalisation of a strategic pact are currently underway. Only recently did the US agree to handing over responsibility of a US-run detention facility to the Afghan government following the fervent demand of the Ulema Council in the wake of the Quran burning. Other issues such as the remaining forces' role and authority to take action once the withdrawal takes place in 2014 remain. This will require a redefining of roles and drawing red lines if a long-term foreign presence is being considered.
What the Coalition forces can do is to ensure that all the rogue soldiers are brought to justice and to do their utmost to prevent such occurrences in the future. Not only do these incidents undo all the positive work that is being done in terms of provision of security and reconstruction, it erodes the whole purpose of the forces presence - to safeguard the lives and security of the people from the insurgents.
The Khaleej Times