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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

US Urges Taliban to Remain Engaged in Afghan Peace Talks

US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Daniel Feldman recently met with Pakistani and Afghan officials as talks were disrupted by news of Taliban chief Mullah Omar's death 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs