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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid