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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid