News / Middle East

    Afghanistan High on Lisbon NATO Summit Agenda

    Soldiers from the U.S. 101st Airborne Division's 1st Battalion search a home in Senjeray, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, 7 Sept. 2010.
    Soldiers from the U.S. 101st Airborne Division's 1st Battalion search a home in Senjeray, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, 7 Sept. 2010.

    Afghanistan is expected to be high on the agenda at the NATO Summit in Lisbon this week. Media reports say NATO leaders are expected to discuss ending the combat mission in Afghanistan, and handing security over to Afghan forces, within four years.  

    If approved, the plan would put an end to a lingering controversy, triggered by President Obama's announcement last year that US troops could start coming back from Afghanistan as early as July 2011.

    Although Mr. Obama said at the time that any withdrawal would depend on the conditions on the ground, his announcement was widely perceived by many to mean the U. S. might start withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan by July of next year.

    Experts even began to speculate that Taliban leaders might change their strategy and just wait for the NATO forces to leave.

    U.S. Senator John McCain, the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has expressed his concern on that point several times, most recent during a visit to Kabul.

    "It sent the wrong message and it created a problem and we need to have the president of the United States state unequivocally that it will be solely conditions-based," McCain said.  "And so I worry a great deal about the effect not only here, but it encourages our enemies and it discourages our friends."

    Days after McCain's remarks, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen emphasized the importance of continuing military operations in Afghanistan to force the Taliban to negotiate.

    "The fact is that it is the increasing military pressure on the Taliban and its leadership that has stimulated the reconciliation talks," said Rasmussen.

    So far, President Obama has been quiet about the controversy his comment has stirred. But his Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, stated the current policy in clear terms this week during a visit to Islamabad.

    "The policy is to turn over the lead responsibility for security of Afghanistan to the Afghan army and police over the next four years, with the international combat forces phasing out," said Holbrooke.

    Those remarks followed Afghan President Hamid Karzai's interview with The Washington Post newpaper during which he demanded a reduction in US-led coalition forces.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also emphasized the deadline is 2014.

    "We think that based on conditions on the ground, we support President Karzai's stated goal of transitioning responsibility for all security to an Afghan lead by the end of 2014," Clinton said. "The pace of transition of security responsibility obviously depends on the ability of the Afghan national security forces and Afghan national police forces to be able to take charge."

    But Holbrooke went a step further, and made it clear that even after 2014 international forces will remain in Afghanistan to help the government to stabilize the country.

    "This is a transition strategy, and not an exit strategy," said Holbrooke. "I say that because I know that the people in this part of the world, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan in the whole region are haunted by the image of 1989 when the Soviet Union withdrew and the US then turned its back on Afghanistan and Pakistan."

    Afghanistan experts in Washington say the immediate strategy in Afghanistan should be to send a clear message that international forces are there to stay until the tide is turned against the Taliban -- enough to force them to be a part of a lasting  political solution.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora