US airstrike hit hospital in Kunduz. What repercussions may this have?

As the UN called Afghan hospital attack in Kunduz that killed 19 people possibly criminal, would you say this tragic incident may also have some repercussion for the future presence of international forces in Afghanistan? Read few comments.ň

Jorrit KammingaFellow, Netherlands Institute for International Relations Clingendael

Despite the tragedy, this is of course not the first time civilian casualties have resulted from bombing by the international coalition. Under the ISAF mission, thousands, not tens or hundreds, of Afghan civilians have been killed and many of those deaths have gone unreported.

What is worse is that the temporary fall of Kunduz seems to surprise so many people. The fall of Kunduz did not happen overnight and it clearly manifests what happens if the international community rapidly reduces its military engagement because of political motives that have little to do with the security situation in Afghanistan.

The writing has been on the wall during the past three years. If Kunduz does not reverse the international disengagement and creates more long-term commitment, hopefully the tragedy of tens of thousands of Afghan refugees now fleeing to Europe – currently the second-biggest group after Syrians – will again put Afghanistan on the international radar.

Ryan Evans, Editor-in-Chief War on the Rocks, Ph.D. Student, King’s College London War Studies Department

The attack was certainly a tragedy and it seems to have been a mistake. I highly doubt it was criminal – probably due to faulty intelligence or a miscommunication. I am sure there will be a full investigation. It looks as if a NATO jet was behind this tragic error and there is no excuse for it, but let’s also keep in mind that NATO countries have built healthcare facilities across Afghanistan. The US Agency for International Development alone has spent over a billion dollars on healthcare in Afghanistan. I do not think this event will make much of a difference for the future presence of international forces in Afghanistan.

Thomas Ruttig, Co-director, Afghanistan Analysts Network

I don’t think that the attack will have direct consequences on the future presence of international forces. The MSF clinic has been hit by an US aircraft – and US troops are under a separate military mission covered by a bilateral US-Afghan agreement. So, it is up to the Afghan government to draw consequences.

For me, the most important thing is that the attack has shown that in wars civilians will almost automatically be harmed, and that bodes badly for the Afghan population. Therefore, it will have repercussions for the welcome of international forces among the Afghan population if it is decided to extend – or even strengthen again – the military presence beyond 2016, as it is under discussion already now in a number of countries. We have seen how the repeated killing of civilians has deteriorated US-Afghan relations under previous President Karzai; this can happen again under the current government.

David IsbyPolitical and defense analyst, Author of books and articles on military and security

The government of Afghanistan cannot defend all its territory that can be threatened by insurgents with the ANSF. Even if the aid commitments made at the Chicago NATO summit and elsewhere are honored, there will not be suitable mobile forces and, ad Frederick the Great told us 250 years ago, if you defend everything, you defend nothing.

Afghanistan needs not only aid money but coalition airpower (including transports and helicopters) and diplomatic involvement with Afghanistan’s neighbors to stop the proxy war that threatens to destroy everything built, by Afghans and the world community alike, since 2001.

Marvin WeinbaumProfessor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Scholar-in-Residence, Middle East Institute

The accidental bombing of the hospital might be expected to hastened the departure of international military. But the recent surge in Taliban attacks in Kunduz and elsewhere will at least for the time being put pressure on NATO and especially its air support to remain to bolster Afghanistan’s still inadequate security forces.

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