News / Middle East

    Petraeus: NATO Pressure Forcing Taliban to Seek Peace

    General David Petraeus made the comments in an interview in Kabul Friday with VOA's Persian News Network.

    Petraeus: NATO Pressure Forcing Taliban to Seek Peace
    Petraeus: NATO Pressure Forcing Taliban to Seek Peace

    Multimedia

    The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan says coalition progress in recent months has stopped Taliban advances in most of the country, and is putting pressure on even senior leaders of the group to seek a peace deal with the Afghan government.

    General Petraeus has spoken of progress in specific parts of Afghanistan before, but now he says that in the last three-to-six months Afghan troops and his international forces have changed the situation in most of the country.

    "I think the Taliban momentum has, as I noted earlier, been reversed in many areas and certainly arrested in the bulk of the country," said Petraeus. "I wouldn't say all parts.  There are certainly areas in which they still might have the local initiative.  But as a broad characterization I think that the Taliban, again, is feeling enormous pain right now, and that pressure is going to increase."

    Petraeus says there is "much hard fighting" still to be done, and U.S. casualties are up sharply this year with the increase in forces and operations in traditional Taliban strongholds, particularly in the south.  But the general says many members of the Taliban, including some senior leaders, are seeking reconciliation because of the combination of deadly special operations strikes on the militant group's fighters and field commanders, and increased efforts by the Afghan government and its international partners to improve security and provide development and governance in more parts of the country.

    "Most of the mid-level leaders, and even some of the senior leaders, we think, are willing to return to Afghanistan, or might be willing to return to Afghanistan," Petraeus said. "And, frankly, the more pressure that they see on those who are working for them in Afghanistan, the more they feel the desire to come home, because again they are, as you noted, the sons of Afghanistan, and have just been led astray in many cases, not all, but in a number of cases."

    Still, General Petraeus cautions that what he calls "various strands of outreach from various Taliban leaders," some inside Afghanistan and some outside, are in the very early stages.

    "These can best be characterized as pre-preliminary discussions.  There's certainly nothing here that rises to the level of, quote, talks or negotiations.  These are exploratory discussions that are taking place," he added.

    The general says some form of reconciliation is part of the solution to virtually all insurgencies, and the same will be true in Afghanistan.  But he adds the fighters and leaders who want to re-join society must agree to lay down their arms, renounce militancy and violence, and pledge to respect the Afghan constitution and its protection of human rights, as President Hamid Karzai has demanded.

    On the role of Afghanistan's neighbors, General Petraeus repeated U.S. government charges that Iran is supporting both the Afghan government and groups trying to overthrow it, including the Taliban.

     

    A US Army soldier searches an associate of a suspected Taliban IED placer, seen in a wheelbarrow, who was killed in a coalition missile strike in Zhari district, Kandahar province (File)
    A US Army soldier searches an associate of a suspected Taliban IED placer, seen in a wheelbarrow, who was killed in a coalition missile strike in Zhari district, Kandahar province (File)

    "Iran does provide, again, what I would characterize as modest amounts of training, equipping, funding and, to some degree, direction to those Taliban elements that are active in the southwest and western part of the country," said Petraeus.

    The general called Iran's "conflicting activities" in Afghanistan "somewhat disingenuous at best."  And he speculated that the policy must cause some "interesting discussion" among the various leaders in Tehran.  He said the Iranians do not want the Taliban to return to power in Afghanistan, but also do not "want see life too easy for the western coalition."  

    General Petraeus also predicted that he will be able to begin to withdraw U.S. troops and transfer authority to Afghan forces by July of next year, as President Barack Obama ordered when he authorized the deployment of 30,000 additional U.S. troops last December.  But the general stressed the pace of the withdrawal will be determined by the security situation at the time.

    "It has been much misunderstood, I might add.  Certainly the Taliban, [and] others, have seized on July, 2011 and made much more of it than I think is warranted.  President Obama and the NATO Secretary General [Anders Fogh Rasmussen], in recent weeks alone, have each stated that they intend to stay in Afghanistan as long as it takes to get the job done.  Their quote, not mine."

    The July, 2011 date has been much criticized by analysts and some members of the U.S. Congress, who believe it provides encouragement to Taliban fighters and makes it difficult for ordinary Afghans to side with the Kabul government.  But General Petraeus told VOA as long as the drawdown is "conditions based" he does not see how anyone can make "an intellectual argument" against it.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    Diplomats Hope to Revive Cradle of Civilization After Defeat of IS

    Diplomats from around globe gather at US State Department, discuss how to rebuild minority communities shattered by Islamic State group

    Women Voters Look Past Gender in Assessing Clinton

    She's the first female presidential nominee, but party identification, other factors outweigh gender

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora