News / Asia

Obama to Speak on Accomplishments, Challenges in Afghanistan, Pakistan

President Barack Obama speaks to the troops at a rally during an unannounced visit at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, 03 Dec 2010
President Barack Obama speaks to the troops at a rally during an unannounced visit at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, 03 Dec 2010

President Obama will speak on Thursday about the status of U.S. and NATO efforts in Afghanistan.  Remarks by Mr. Obama and U.S. officials will mark the completion of a government-wide assessment of accomplishments and challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and steps to thwart al-Qaida and extremists advances.  

The much anticipated report by the president's national security team encompasses the views of multiple U.S. government agencies and the military about the situation in Afghanistan.

Previewing the president's remarks, the White House said there will be no major surprises and that in reality, what was originally described in media reports as a major review will in fact be just the latest in a series assessments of conditions on the ground.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs played down comparisons between Thursday's remarks, and Mr. Obama's speech one year ago at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  

In that address, Mr. Obama announced a surge of 30,000 additional troops aimed at stepping up pressure on Taliban forces in key areas of Afghanistan.  Those forces enabled a new U.S. and NATO commander, General David Petraeus to implement his strategies.  

Gibbs said the president will report progress in slowing the momentum of Taliban forces, and success in counter-terrorism efforts aimed at de-grading the senior leadership of al-Qaida.  Gibbs summarized Mr. Obama's overall focus.

"The president set out a series of goals in his West Point speech," said Gibbs. "Are we making progress with this strategy in meeting those goals?  What is working, what has to be refined, what progress have we made, what challenges persist and how do we address those challenges?"

President Obama's remarks follow the final scheduled meeting of the year of his special national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, are also expected to brief reporters at the White House.

But Mr. Obama and his team now face a void left by the man who led them, veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke, the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who died this week of complications from heart surgery.

As Mr. Obama and other NATO leaders made clear at their summit in Lisbon, they are determined that a transition of responsibilities to Afghan security forces be based on conditions on the ground, and be completed by 2014.

Nothing in the new national security report on Afghanistan, says White House spokesman Gibbs, will place in question the beginning of a U.S. troop drawdown scheduled to begin in July of next year.

The president's spokesman provided a glimpse of one issue Mr. Obama is likely to focus on in his remarks, namely Pakistan's commitment to dealing with extremists within its borders that are making the job in Afghanistan more difficult.

Gibbs said the views of Richard Holbrooke regarding Pakistan, which the U.S. generally describes as having become more willing to cooperate, were represented during this week's AF-PAK meeting.  But he says the review makes clear that improvement is needed.

"We are certainly clear with our partners in Pakistan on this, and I think it will be clear again in the document, that as we have seen greater cooperation, challenges remain," he said.

The president also faces some intense skepticism about his Afghanistan strategy in Congress, where it will be up to lawmakers to approve funding in coming years.  Of particular concern, aside from the ongoing cost to Americans, is the question of corruption in the Afghan government.

Though the president has stuck with is pledge to begin a U.S. drawdown in July, Democratic  Senator Barbara Boxer used a speech on the floor of the Senate this week to voice concern about any delay.

"I support beginning to bring the troops home in 2011," she said. "There is some talk that it might be extended to another year.  I don't support that."

There will be two versions of the Afghanistan-Pakistan policy review, one for public consumption, the other classified.

It's certain there will be hearings on Capitol Hill in the new year on the president's strategy in House and Senate committees.

You May Like

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

Euro falls after European Central Bank announces a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program More

Saudi King’s Death Clears Succession Route

Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef is Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince-in-waiting More

Cloud Hangs Over US Counterterrorism Efforts in Yemen

Sources say resignations of Yemen's president, government has left US anti-terror operations 'paralyzed,' yet an American military 'footprint' remains 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid