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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

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