News / Asia

Petraeus Appointment Greeted with Praise, Uncertainty in Afghanistan

General David Petraeus (file photo)
General David Petraeus (file photo)
David Dyar

U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement that he plans to change the top commander in Afghanistan from General Stanley McChrystal to General David Petraeus comes during NATO's deadliest month in the war torn country.

This June in Afghanistan has seen not only the highest number of casualties for international forces, but also a more unlikely casualty - the resignation of the top NATO commander for the country, U.S. General Stanley McChrystal.

As President Barack Obama accepted McChrystal's resignation, the president announced he planned to install U.S. General David Petraeus as the new commander.

Analysts expect lawmakers in Washington to approve General Petraeus with little fuss, considering the commander is credited with turning around the military strategy in Iraq several years ago.

But on the streets of Kabul, ordinary Afghans say they are not sure what the future holds.

Samiullah says no one knows anything about Petraeus or his plans, but all Afghan people are aware that McChrystal was serving them well.  He says he hopes Petraeus also will do a good job.

Praise for McChrystal is a common theme in Kabul.

Shafiqullah says that in the first nine years of the war, there were lots of civilian casualties.  But after McChrystal's arrival a year ago, he says the killing of civilians decreased.

Pamir says he thinks McChrystal was good because he repaired relations with civilians.  He says he does not think McChrystal treated the Afghan people badly.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai also was an outspoken supporter of General McChrystal.

Waheed Omar is a spokesman for Mr. Karzai.  He shared the president's feelings with reporters. "McChrystal's departure is sad, it's unfortunate, but General David Petraeus' arrival is good news as well," he said.

Omar says President Karzai thinks General Petreaus is the best possible choice to replace McChrystal, considering his seniority and his knowledge of the region. "In this decision of President Obama, it is an expression of commitment to Afghanistan.  General Petraeus knows the region, General Petraeus knows Afghanistan, he has been overseeing what's happening in Afghanistan and he has had a role in devising this strategy for Afghanistan, so he is no stranger to Afghanistan," he said.

But some regional experts still think Petraeus has a tall order to fill.

Analysts have credited McChrystal for reinvigorating the NATO mission in the country, by focusing it on the Afghan people and seeking to limit civilian casualties.

Mohammad Akram Khapalwak is the former governor of Paktika province.  He said he believes McChrystal did a good job with this refocused strategy.

As one example, he points out that McChrystal traveled many times with President Karzai to southern Afghanistan to speak with local elders and politicians, even as NATO and Afghan forces intensify the fight against the Taliban there. "That means that both the U.S. government and Afghan government [are] working to bring operation in a positive role - to involve the community in these operations," he said.

He says he believes changing from General McChrystal has more drawbacks than benefits. "[If you] change the commander who have good relations with the Afghan government and is well-able to bring coordination with the government and with civil peoples, [it] will bring negative aspect," he said.

Khapalwak says a new military commander in Afghanistan needs several months to get acquainted with the country and its people, precious time that is a luxury at the moment.

He says the summer season is normally Afghanistan's most violent and that this year it is combined with an impending offensive against the Taliban in Kandahar province, as well as campaigning for September's parliamentary elections.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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