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 Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid