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

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs