News / Asia

US Troop Drawdown Elicits Mixed Reactions Among Afghans

A US soldier, part of the NATO forces, patrols a police station after it was attacked by militants in Kandahar, south of Kabul, Afghanistan,  June 19, 2012.
A US soldier, part of the NATO forces, patrols a police station after it was attacked by militants in Kandahar, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, June 19, 2012.
Ayaz Gul
Afghanistan's government has welcomed President Barack Obama's announcement that the United States will withdraw about half of the 66,000 American troops now in the country over the next year.  But Taliban insurgents have rejected the U.S. move as a "tactical" effort and reiterated their fight will not end until all foreign forces leave Afghanistan.  

The U.S. president said in his annual State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress Tuesday night that 34,000 soldiers will come home from Afghanistan within a year, and that America's "war in Afghanistan will be over" by the end of 2014.  Mr. Obama also said U.S. forces will move into a support role this coming spring while Afghan security forces take lead.
 
President Hamid Karzai welcomed the announcement and his advisors say that newly trained Afghan forces are ready to take responsibility for their country's security.
 
A presidential spokesman in Kabul said the war-ravaged nation has long wanted foreign forces out of Afghan villages, and the withdrawal of American forces in the spring "will definitely help in ensuring peace and full security in the country."
 
Political commentator, Said Mohammad Azam, a former Karzai government official, noted that President Obama did not say how many U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after 2014, adding that Afghans are uncomfortable about the persistent ambiguity surrounding the issue.  He says a majority of the people in Afghanistan are not in favor of all foreign forces leaving the country.
 
"They want a kind of international presence in their country and they see that as a sign of ensuring stability in their country.  But by and large they are not favoring a larger number of troops, which means more fighting in the country.  They are fed up with fighting and they are also scared of (a)collapse of (the) state, chaos and civil war," said Azam.
 
In its reaction to President Obama's announcement, the Taliban has reiterated that if any foreign forces remain in Afghanistan, fighting will continue.  A spokesman for the insurgents stated that "instead of tactical efforts, troop reductions and gradual withdrawals," foreign countries should immediately pull out all their troops.
 
Some in Afghanistan are skeptical about the ability of the country's newly trained security forces to deal with the Taliban insurgency past 2014.  But others dismiss those fears.  They cite improving security in parts of Afghanistan where local forces are leading the security operations.  Political commentator Azam says that continued foreign military assistance to Afghan forces is the key to maintaining long-term stability in the country.
 
"They have proved themselves quite effective, but of course the Afghan forces are very much dependent for the support both of logistic and also military," explained Azam. "And also intelligence support of international forces, particularly of (the) Americans."
 
Some observers say the Afghan government's efforts to engage the Taliban in peace talks are also vital to weakening the insurgency.  Asad Munir is a former officer of Pakistan's spy agency, the ISI, which is known to have links to the Taliban.
 
"If they are able to make some progress in the peace process and even if they manage get some people out of Taliban on board, so then the intensity of insurgency, it will be not very high and the Taliban I don’t think that they would be able to capture any major city," Munir stated. "If there is no disintegration in the (Afghan) army, I think they will able to sustain the onslaught of Taliban."

Leaders in neighboring Pakistan have also lately stepped up efforts to get the Afghan reconciliation process started as early as possible.  Islamabad recently freed 26 Afghan Taliban officials from its prisons.  Kabul has been demanding the release of all such prisoners in Pakistan, hoping they will be helpful in persuading Taliban insurgents to end violence and reintegrate into Afghan society.

You May Like

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid