News / Asia

Experts Fear Afghanistan 'Zero Option' May Have Repercussions

Afghanistan 'Zero Option' May Have Repercussions for Regioni
X
July 11, 2013 10:22 PM
Earlier this week, the White House said a decision on pulling out all U.S. troops from Afghanistan after 2014 is not imminent but it is an option "on the table." Many experts say U.S. policymakers are increasingly frustrated in their negotiations with Afghanistan's government on a continued military presence in Afghanistan after that date. The senior U.S. diplomat for Afghanistan told Congress this week he believes an agreement will be reached, and as VOA's Kokab Farshori reports, a number of experts say it is in the interests of both governments to avoid the so called "zero-option" plan.
Kokab Farshori
Earlier this week, the White House said a decision on pulling out all U.S. troops from Afghanistan after 2014 is not imminent but it is an option "on the table."  Many experts say U.S. policymakers are increasingly frustrated in their negotiations with Afghanistan's government on a continued military presence in Afghanistan after that date.  The senior U.S. diplomat for Afghanistan told Congress this week he believes an agreement will be reached, and a number of experts say it is in the interests of both governments to avoid the so called "zero-option" plan.

Afghanistan suffered from a bloody civil war in the 1990s. While different Afghan factions fought for the control of the country, analysts say nearby countries like Pakistan, India and Iran thought it was in their national interest to support one particular group or another.

Andrew Wilder, of the U.S. Institute of Peace, thinks the so-called "zero option" of pulling all U.S. troops out at the end of next year may take Afghanistan back to that situation.  

"I think the idea that we are going to pull out the troops would exacerbate the concerns within the regional actors that Afghanistan could again fall apart and return to civil war, which if anything, further going to provide incentive to the regional actors to back their proxies in Afghanistan," said Wilder.

Wilder says another concern is that while the U.S. does not have a military presence in neighboring Pakistan, instability in one country impacts the other.  In recent years, Pakistan has been badly hit by several terrorist groups.  Wilder says leaving no troops in Afghanistan would further embolden militant groups in Pakistan.

"The biggest concern would be for the Pakistani Taliban, the TTP.  They could then get inspirational and say look what happened in Afghanistan - they defeated this invading power.  And that could be mobilizing for TTP and other militant groups in Pakistan," he said.

Experts like Lisa Curtis believe the regional countries are closely watching the situation, and that U.S. troops offer the possibility of stability.   

"If the United States could come out and commit to robust troop presence say anywhere between 10 to 20 thousand U.S. troops, then I think you create more confidence that the situation in Afghanistan can be stabilized and you hold out hope that countries like Pakistan may get onboard with a political solution and may cooperate more effectively," said Curtis.

But if experts say taking all the troops out of Afghanistan is a bad option, then why did the White House say it was on the table?

"Some observers think that the White House is using that as a bargaining chip, that it is bluffing, that it has no intentions of leaving zero troops but it is trying to force Karzai to be more reasonable in the negotiations of the bilateral security agreement.  But in my opinion, both the Karzai administration and Obama administration are using the wrong tactics," she said.

Curtis says the perception of a wedge between Kabul and Washington will play right in the hands of the Taliban and other regional extremists - and against the interests of the two countries.  Experts stress that whatever plan the White House does go ahead with, it should not let the Afghan people feel that they are being abandoned by the international community - one more time.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs