News / Asia

New Afghan War Commander Briefs NATO Officials

General David Petraeus, the newly appointed commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has briefed alliance officials in Brussels on his plans for the war effort.  Petraeus met with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen Thursday, and addressed ambassadors of the North Atlantic Council, the alliance's top decision-making body.

He pledged progress in the war and reiterated the alliance's efforts to do everything possible to reduce civilian casualites.  The general also warned of tough fighting in the months to come. His visit comes just one day after the U.S. senate unanimously confirmed him as the new Afghan war commander.

Next, the general travels to Afghanistan, where he will take command of around 140,000 U.S and NATO soldiers who are at a critical junction in the Obama administration's counterinsurgency strategy to defeat the Taliban, rebuild the country and trust among the war-weary population.  

Based on the success he helped guide in Iraq in 2007, VOA Pentagon correspondent Al Pessin says General Petraeus is ideally suited for the delicate task of working with U.S. ambassador Karl Eikenberry, President Hamid Karzai and leaders of the more than 40 coalition partners in Afghanistan.

"General Petraeus is one of the most politically and diplomatically experienced officers in the U.S. military, much more so than General McChrystal, on a par more or less with Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So, he is very much aware that he has to deal with those issues. He's also aware of the fact that he is not the lead person on those issues.  That's more Ambassador [Karl] Eikenberry's ballywig [territory], " Pessin said. "But General Petraeus has to play a very delicate role of being a leader to some extent on those issues, but not being the number one on those issues."

The general is taking over amidst big expectations and a complex set of problems said
Christopher Snedden, Director of the Australia-based consultancy Asia Calling.

"It's much more tribal down south. There's not the insurgency problems up in the north because there are different groups up there, Uzbeks and Tajiks and various other people. But the Pashtuns down in the south, they are the ones that have to be placated. And to placate them is going to be very, very difficult." Snedden said. "And also, unlike Iraq perhaps, Pakistan and certainly those tribal areas in Pakistan are much more important in allowing groups like the Haqqani network to operate from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas [FATA] of Pakistan.  And while Iran did support elements within Iraq, it wasn't able to so to same extent I don't think as those people in FATA are able to do with the Taliban."

To be successful, General Petraeus must win the hearts of minds of the people, a process he warns could take years, according to  Amin Saikal, Director of Arab and Muslim Studies at Australia National University.  But Saikal points out the problem of winning over the population is made more difficult by what he calls the dysfunctional and corrupt Kabul government, which he says has created a political vacuum exploited by the Taliban.

Saikal suggests a government overhaul is needed to address those thorny issues.

"It would have to be changed into a parliamentary system of government, which would be more responsive to a country so socially divided as Afghanistan. And, of course, one must not forget that Afgahnistan in many ways historically has been the land of the 'strongman' and these actors will have to be locked into a national system of obligations and responsibilities. That can only be achieved through a parliamentary system of governance," said Saikal. "Not necessarily through a strong presidential system of governance as has been built up or put in place by President Karzai and his international supporters."

Amin Saikal also thinks it would be wise for General Petraeus to support a regional conference on Afghanistan's future that might include the five permanent U.N. Security Council members, along with Afghanistan's neighbors, as well as countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey.  

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid