Afghan Reaction Mixed Toward New US Strategy

While the Afghan government responded positively to President Obama's plan, the reactions from ordinary Afghans in Kabul were mixed.

U.S. President Barack Obama has announced his new strategy for Afghanistan, which has military and civilian goals. 

Mr. Obama spoke directly to the people of Afghanistan as he outlined his new strategy for their country.

"I want the Afghan people to understand - America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering.  We have no interest in occupying your country," he said.

Following Mr. Obama's speech, Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta spoke to reporters. He said the Afghan government considers President Obama's announcement important for Afghanistan, the region overall and future U.S.-Afghan relations.

But while the Afghan government responded positively to Mr. Obama's plan, the reactions from ordinary Afghans in Kabul were mixed.

Sulaiman Khel is from Paktika province.  He says his message to President Obama is very simple: Do not send more troops.  He says Afghanistan needs financial support, not more foreign troops.

 Mujeeb-u-Rahman, a student in Kabul, says he believes that if there are more American troops in Afghanistan, security will improve.

Sayed Abdullah, an Afghan government employee in Kabul,  says Mr. Obama should just send the money instead of the troops.  He says he believes the security situation will get worse if there are more foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Abdul Rauf Mangal, a businessman from Khost province, says Mr. Obama's promise to strengthen the Afghan security forces is a good idea, and that Afghans will support him.  He says just giving money to Afghanistan is not enough.

This has been the deadliest year for foreign troops in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban government eight years ago.

Mr. Obama said late Tuesday the United States supports efforts by the Afghan government to reconcile with Taliban militants who lay down their weapons and reject violence.  The U.S. president also said he hopes to start withdrawing American troops in July 2011.

People in Kabul embraced these concepts.  They also approved of Mr. Obama's so-called "civilian surge," a U.S.-Afghan partnership that would help expand the country's agricultural sector.  

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