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

Video Anti-Muslim Sponsor of Texas Cartoon Contest Draws Ire

Pamela Geller's supporters say she speaks truth about sensitive topic, while critics say she preaches 'that Islam is inherently evil' More

East Meets West in Exhibition Showing Chinese Influence on Fashion

Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition juxtaposes influence of art, imagery and culture, from Imperial China to the present day, on Western fashion and design More

South Africa Begins New Love Affair With Vinyl Records

Enthusiasts say the 'rebirth' of vinyl is resulting in a rebirth of music in South Africa 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.
Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailandi
X
May 05, 2015 5:50 PM
Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailand

Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Russia's 'Victory Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

ussia is preparing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, known since the Soviet era as “The Great Patriotic War,” with a massive parade on May 9th of military hardware and millions of medals handed out to veterans or their relatives. But critics say the Soviet-style display of power and nationalism overshadows tragic scars during and after the war that still influence politics and foreign policy, especially in the current Ukraine crisis.
Video

Video WWII Anniversary Brings Old Friends and New Worries

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has special significance, with Russia becoming more assertive in Ukraine and sending its military planes to the edges of western countries’ airspace. Changes in the geostrategic balance and the transatlantic relationship are felt across the continent, not least in German towns that have hosted U.S. military bases since the defeat of Nazi Germany. VOA’s Al Pessin visited Schweinfurt, Germany, where a large base closed last year.
Video

Video Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversary

Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs