News / Asia

Afghanistan Faces Crucial Year of Elections, Security Transition

Afghanistan Faces Crucial Year of Elections, Security Transitioni
X
December 10, 2013 5:31 AM
After more than a decade of war, Afghans have another tough year ahead. In 2014 they face the complete withdrawal of international combat forces, a tapering off of aid money, a weak economy, a continuing insurgency, and elections for a new president. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.

Afghanistan Faces Crucial Year of Elections, Security Transition

Sharon Behn
After more than a decade of war, Afghans have another tough year ahead. In 2014, they face the complete withdrawal of international combat forces, a tapering off of aid money, a weak economy, a continuing insurgency, and elections for a new president.
 
The April 2014 presidential elections will usher in the first government since the U.S. overthrow of the Taliban that does not have Afghan leader Hamid Karzai at the top.
 
Over the years, critics say Karzai has transformed from a reliable U.S. ally into an unpredictable leader, to the frustration of both his foreign partners and domestic allies. Nonetheless, despite his political maneuvering, Karzai has become a symbol for continuity in Afghanistan.
 
Young people growing up in busy cities like Kabul have expectations of a better future, but fierce power rivalries and lawlessness in the country mean it is unlikely next year's election will be free and fair, according to analyst Kate Clark.
 
“The ideal is that you have someone that has a popular consensus. And I think that’s difficult,” she said. “The fraud is so much that you are not going to get anyone happy, and it’s a question of how messy it’s going to be.”
 
Also in question is what is going to happen to U.S. forces in Afghanistan. By early December, Karzai had refused to sign a bilateral security pact that would keep a contingent behind to train, assist and equip Afghan forces.
 
Karzai snubbed the nation’s tribal elders, who approved the security deal and called for it to be signed immediately,JirgaJ and instead declared that the agreement should be signed after the elections and peace and stability are established in the country.
 
U.S. officials are working hard to convince Karzai to finalize the security agreement before the end of the year, and say delaying the signing will make it harder to keep the estimated 12,000 U.S. troops in country.
 
Another thorny issue is neighboring Pakistan. The U.S. is concerned about Pakistan's harboring of militants and the security of U.S. transit routes out of Afghanistan. 
An Afghan peace deal with Taliban militants - who also rejected the security pact - does not seem any closer.
 
Former Taliban and now Afghan High Peace Council member Abdul Hakim Mujahid says that without a deal with the militants, the country risks sliding backwards.
 
“If we couldn’t reach a political settlement and we went to the general election, and a president came in power who is not assured of a political settlement, we will [have] lost at least five years, unfortunately for peace, and we will for more five years, and the fighting and the crisis will be continued for more than five years in this country,” predicted Mujahid.
  
Afghan security forces are increasingly taking the lead across the country, but attrition and casualty rates have been high. A July 2013 Pentagon report noted that in March, Afghan force casualties spiked to more than 300 a month. March is the start of the traditional Taliban fighting season.
 
Clark said that as of September, Afghan security forces were dying at the rate of 100 per week.
 
Former minister Hamidullah Farooqi, who is also a member of the Truth and Justice party, says the national forces will need substantial help beyond 2014.
 
“We are a little behind in that case, that is why we don’t know if Afghan security forces will be able to defend this country without support, and our economy, our national resources are not enough for our national and security needs,” said Farooqi.
 
International patience is wearing thin with Karzai. Analysts say much will depend on how much Washington is willing to accommodate the Afghan leader and his demands. If the United States does withdraw all forces and a related eight billion dollars in aid, analysts warn that Afghanistan is headed for some very hard times.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid