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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid