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

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs