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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid