News / Asia

Gates: Low-Level Reconciliation Growing in Afghanistan

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says as more troops flow into Afghanistan and they begin to implement the new U.S. strategy, there has been an increase in the number of low-level Taliban fighters who are surrendering.  But as Afghan President Hamid Karzai begins talks with the leaders of the Taliban and related groups, Gates says he thinks it is too early to expect those committed militants to accept peace on what he considers reasonable terms.

Secretary Gates told a congressional committee he sees two processes as essential to solving Afghanistan's internal disputes in the long term.  

One, he calls "reintegration," and it involves militant foot soldiers, many of whom he says fight to earn money or because they have been intimidated.  He says there has long been a trickle of such people seeking government protection to rejoin society, and the numbers have recently begun to increase.  

"That is already happening.  The numbers are relatively small, but we can already see increases in the number of those [seeking reintegration] at that lower level," he said.

Gates says the burden is now on the Afghan government and its international partners to provide protection and jobs for the former fighters in order to encourage more to join the trend.

But the defense secretary says the other part of a political settlement, which he calls "reconciliation," involves the senior militant leadership, and for that he says it is still "probably early."

"The shift of momentum is not yet strong enough to convince the Taliban leaders that they are, in fact, going to lose," said Gates.  "And it is when they begin to have doubts about whether they can be successful that they may be willing to make a deal.  And I do not think we are there yet," he said.

Secretary Gates believes that may come later, as more foreign troops flow in and the coalition and Afghan government take control of more parts of the country.

But President Karzai is getting the process started.  He is planning a peace council for next month, and this week he met with representatives of Hezb-e-Islami, one of the main Taliban affiliates.  That move resulted in some concern expressed by members of Congress.  

Secretary Gates said any reconciliation and reintegration process must be handled by President Karzai in his own way.  But he laid out some basic conditions to be met to earn U.S. support for any Afghan political settlement.

"Our concern is that the reconciliation take place on the terms of the Afghan government and that it be done from a position of strength, where those who are reconciling, who have been opposed to the Afghan government, agree to put down their weapons, agree to abide by the Afghan constitution and agree to participate in the political process," said Gates.

The proposal Hezb-e-Islami presented to President Karzai did not come close to meeting those criteria.

Gates said U.S. and allied forces are working to create the 'position of strength' he mentioned between now and July of next year, when President Barack Obama has said the Afghan government will have to begin to take responsibility for security in its country.

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs