News / Asia

    NATO Chief Predicts Another Tough Year Ahead for Afghanistan

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, center, speaks during a media roundtable discussion at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, March 16, 2016.
    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, center, speaks during a media roundtable discussion at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, March 16, 2016.
    Associated Press

    The head of NATO on Wednesday predicted a difficult fight ahead for Afghanistan as the government continues to battle the Taliban and other militant factions trying to assert their presence in the war-ravaged country.

    Jens Stoltenberg, NATO's secretary general, said insurgents will press their fight against Kabul in what is likely to be another tough year for the Afghan government. He spoke to The Associated Press during a two-day visit to Kabul, his second since taking the top NATO role in late 2014.

    The Taliban, al-Qaida and the Islamic State group will keep up their attacks across Afghanistan throughout 2016, he said.

    "We have seen different terrorist organizations trying to establish themselves in Afghanistan," he said. "We have seen the presence of al-Qaida, IS, the Taliban and all the groups, and they are still in Afghanistan."

    "There is going to be continued fighting and we have to expect that there are going to be new attacks on the government forces," he added.

    NATO has around 3,000 troops in Afghanistan, in the so-called Resolute Support non-combat mission along with about 9,800 U.S. soldiers. The mission was pared down in 2014, with the departure of most international combat troops, leaving Afghan forces to take on the insurgency largely alone.

    For now, the United States will halve troop numbers at the end of this year. Stoltenberg said NATO's numbers for 2017 are not yet clear. The use of U.S. airstrikes to back Afghan forces has been critical in helping them hold ground and can push Taliban and other insurgent groups out of contested areas.

    The Taliban were well-prepared for the end of the U.S.-NATO combat mission and swiftly intensified their insurgency, now in its 15th year. Officials have said that Afghan forces suffered almost 30 percent more deaths and casualties in 2015 than the estimated 5,000 of the year before.

    There have been no official figures released on those casualties.

    The U.N. mission in Afghanistan says more than 11,000 civilians were killed and wounded last year, many of them women and children caught in the crossfire.

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said this week that the extremists from an Islamic State affiliate that had gained a foothold in the east last year, with ambitions to move north toward the Central Asia states, were now "on the run" following military operations.

    Analysts, however, dispute that assessment, and also point to the spread in the north by the Taliban and other Islamic militants.

    Nevertheless, Stoltenberg was upbeat in his praise for Afghan forces and said NATO efforts would focus on Kunduz in the north and Helmand in the south, where the Taliban are fighting to hold lucrative routes for smuggling men, guns, drugs, alcohol and minerals.

    A dire assessment was also expressed by the U.N. mission chief in Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom, who on Tuesday told the U.N. Security Council that the Afghan government was fighting for its survival amid surging militants.

    Unless the government overcame "five distinct hurdles" it would face "severe consequences," Haysom said, listing a contracting economy, intensifying insurgency, fractious political environment as well as desperately needed funding from the international community and the need to demonstrate progress toward a sustainable peace.

    "For 2016, survival will be an achievement," Haysom said at the U.N.

    Ghani's government is hoping to draw the Taliban into a dialogue aimed at formal peace talks, but a face-to-face meeting between representatives of both sides that had been expected earlier this month has yet to be set. The Taliban said last week they would not participate.

    Meanwhile, violence continues to kill and wound civilians and Afghan security forces. In Kunar province, bordering Pakistan, a woman and three of her children died when a rocket landed on their home in the Ghazi Abad district early Wednesday, the provincial police chief, Faridullah Dehqaan said.

    Further south, in Nangarhar province, also bordering Pakistan, an attack by militants loyal to IS left six policemen "killed or wounded," the provincial governor's spokesman Ataullah Khogyani said. The attack on their checkpoint took place around 2am Wednesday, he said.

     

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora