News / USA

    US 'Nowhere Near' Decision to Pull All Troops Out of Afghanistan

    FILE - U.S. troops, part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), arrive at the site of a suicide attack in Maidan Shar, the capital of Wardak province, Afghanistan.
    FILE - U.S. troops, part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), arrive at the site of a suicide attack in Maidan Shar, the capital of Wardak province, Afghanistan.
    Reuters
    The Obama administration is “nowhere near” deciding to pull out all troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday, despite mounting frustration that President Hamid Karzai has not signed a security deal allowing the military to remain there after next year.
     
    “I have no doubt that the [bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan] ultimately will be concluded,” Ambassador James Dobbins, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
     
    While Dobbins said that an ongoing delay in finalizing the deal - which U.S. officials had hoped Karzai would sign weeks ago - would impose “damages and costs” on Afghans, he said the Obama administration was not on the verge of abandoning its effort to extend its troop presence.
     
    “We're nowhere near a decision that would involve our departing Afghanistan altogether,” he said.
     
    The administration has been urging Karzai to sign the bilateral security agreement (BSA) it negotiated with Karzai's government. The deal would permit the U.S. to keep troops in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014 to support Afghan forces and conduct limited counterterrorism activities.
     
    After Afghan elders and politicians endorsed the pact last month, Karzai surprised Washington by introducing new conditions for his signature.
     
    If no deal can be finalized, Washington has said it will withdraw its entire force of 47,000 troops in a little over a year. Other NATO nations are likely to follow suit.
     
    The absence of foreign troops would likely dampen donor nations' willingness to fund Afghan troops and provide civilian aid.
     
    “My judgment is no troops, no aid, or almost no aid,” Dobbins said. If security conditions were to worsen sharply, he said, United States could conceivably even close its embassy in Kabul.
     
    There are fears that the Taliban and other militants ultimately could regain strength, the central government could founder, and Afghanistan be plunged anew into civil war.
     
    The possibility of a full withdrawal of foreign forces is already having a dangerous impact on Afghanistan, Dobbins said, as people pull money out of the country, property prices fall and the Afghan currency slips in value.
     
    Larry Sampler, a senior official at the U.S. Agency for International Development, told senators that it would be more difficult to find ways to carry out promised civilian assistance for impoverished Afghanistan without a security deal and a foreign troop presence.
     
    ‘Colonial’ Pressure
     
    As U.S. frustrations with Karzai become increasingly public, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made a surprise visit to Kabul last weekend. However, in an unusual move, he opted not to meet with Karzai.
     
    In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Karzai accused the United States of applying 'colonial' pressure on him to sign the pact and said Dobbins suggested during a recent visit to Kabul that without a security agreement there would be no peace.
     
    The Obama administration has not yet said precisely how many troops it would leave in Afghanistan after 2014 if a deal is finalized that would fight a Taliban that remains a potent, if diminished, force,
     
    Senator John McCain, a Republican, pressed Dobbins for clarity on how many soldiers would be left in Afghanistan post-2014, and said announcing future troops levels might persuade Karzai to sign.
     
    “By not doing so you're making a very, very serious mistake,” McCain said.
     
    He said the Obama administration risked repeating the course of events in Iraq, where U.S. officials halted efforts to seal a security deal with Iraq in late 2011, prompting the full withdrawal of U.S. troops at the end of that year.
     
    Violence in Iraq is now at its highest level in at least five years; more than 8,000 people have been killed so far in 2013, according to the U.N.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.