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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.