Afghanistan and US 'close to night raid deal'

Agreement would give lead role to Afghan forces, as raid footage shows innocent family looking shocked and frightened.

    Al Jazeera understands that US and Afghan officials are close to signing a deal on the future of controversial night raids, which have become a major hurdle in discussions over the long-term relations between the two countries.

    The agreement will give Afghan security forces the lead role in the operations and provide Afghan judicial oversight, officials said.

    NATO footage of one such raid, which was filmed in the Sarobi district east of Kabul, shows family members looking shocked and frightened as their home is searched by soldiers and a man is questioned.

    No charges were brought as a result of the raid and the family were entirely innocent. 

    The deal is expected to help clear the way for a broader strategic partnership agreement that will govern the US presence in Afghanistan once Afghan forces take full responsibility for security by the end of 2014.

    Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, reporting from Kabul, said :"the operations will be primarily Afghan-led, although foreign forces will be playing a role in planning and executing.

    "Essentially, it will be Afghan military going to Afghan houses, which addresses a major culture sensitivity about the night raids.”

    A US defence official, who spoke to Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity, said there was general acceptance on both sides that Afghans should take the lead role in any night raids and that there should be some form of warrant system to give Afghans judicial oversight of the process, the official said.

    But some differences remain over issues related to the detention of people for interrogation, the official said.

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has been pressing for an end to the night raids, said some raids had violated Afghan sovereignty.

    The president’s team has been increasingly divided over long term relations with the US, with some of their disagreements resulting in clashes, as previously reported by Al Jazeera.

    The United States has been pressing to wrap up the long-delayed strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan ahead of a NATO summit in Chicago in May.

    The two countries last month signed an agreement transferring a major US-run prison to Afghan authority, leaving military raids of Afghan homes in the middle of the night as the primary sticking point to achieving a broader strategic partnership deal.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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