News / Asia

Afghan President Announces NATO Pullout Areas

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speaking at the National Military Academy in Kabul, March 22, 2011
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speaking at the National Military Academy in Kabul, March 22, 2011
Ayaz Gul

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has announced seven areas across the country where local forces will take charge of  security from NATO-led forces starting in July. The move lays the groundwork for the eventual withdrawal of all foreign combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.  But critics remain skeptical about the preparedness of Afghan police and soldiers to take security control.

Mr. Karzai announced the first phase of the security transition Tuesday, while addressing senior army and police officers at the National Military Academy in Kabul.

Beginning in July, Mr. Karzai says security responsibility in Panjshir, Bamiyan and Kabul provinces will be transferred to the Afghan forces. However, NATO and U.S. forces will remain in the Sarobi district of Kabul province. The restive Afghan district is close to areas where Taliban insurgents frequently carry out attacks and  is also located along a main road to the border with Pakistan.

In addition, President Karzai says provincial capitals Herat, Lashkar Gah, Mazar-e-Sharif and Mehterlam will be placed under Afghan security control.

The president told the gathering that the Afghan nation does not want the defense of this country to be in the hands of others anymore, saying it is our responsibility to raise the Afghan flag with honor and dignity.

U.S and NATO forces have been training Afghan police and troops to enable them to take security responsibility of the entire country by 2014. A smooth and successful transition is vital for the withdrawal of American and NATO forces from Afghanistan.

But critics remain skeptical about the ability and motivation of the Afghan forces, citing among other challenges - corruption, a lack of equipment and, most of all, a growing Taliban insurgency. Analysts say that the areas President Karzai has chosen in the first phase are relatively secure and peaceful and it could be an attempt to test the abilities of local forces.
Sameena Ahmed is the regional director for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

She says it will also be important to see how the militant groups in Afghanistan and their allies in neighboring Pakistan interpret the transition plan.

"I think one has to be cautious about the signaling-how will it be read by the Afghan Taliban insurgents that are operating out of Pakistani bases but also their Pakistani militant allies. Will they too see this as perhaps a weakening of the U.S resolve to stay in the fight in Afghanistan? So it is going to be absolutely essential to make sure that with the support of the foreign forces the Afghan security forces that take this lead are able to then secure these areas," she said.

A Taliban spokesman has termed President Karzai's speech merely symbolic, saying the country remains occupied by thousands of foreign forces. He said only time will tell whether Afghan forces can secure the transition areas.

During Tuesday's speech in Kabul, the Afghan president called for the Taliban to join his government's peace process to bring stability to the war-torn country.

Mr. Karzai also criticized U.S and NATO-led forces, saying civilian deaths caused by coalition operations, night raids, and irresponsible arrests have bolstered the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Civilian deaths in anti-insurgency operations have become a source of friction between President Karzai and the NATO forces stationed in the country. But Afghan observers say the president's criticism is politically motivated and is meant to deflect condemnation of his own incompetence as well as inability to check corruption.

Ajmal Samadi is the director of the Kabul-based Afghanistan Rights Monitor. "He has to demonstrate commitment to protection of Afghan people regardless of his political agenda. So when Taliban is killing people systematically and deliberately, we want President Karzai to condemn these incidents as strongly as he condemns NATO. And also the crimes that pro-government militias are committing in different parts of the country where it is raping people whether it is other kinds of problems that militias are inflicting on people President Karzai must also condemn and stop those acts of violence," Samadi said.

The Afghan human rights activist says that civilian deaths are not helping warring parties in Afghanistan. Samadi believes the future of the conflict depends on who is doing more to protect civilians.

U.S. President Barack Obama plans to start withdrawing American troops in July if ground conditions allow. More than 1,500 U.S soldiers have died in Afghanistan since the war started nine years ago and the annual cost of the U.S military campaign is more than $100 billion.

In a recently conducted survey by Washington Post/ABC news, two-thirds of Americans believe it is not worth continuing the war in Afghanistan.

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs