News / Asia

    US Military Remains Optimistic About Afghanistan

    Battles between NATO troops and Taliban fighters continue in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province
    Battles between NATO troops and Taliban fighters continue in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province

    Multimedia

    As the battle for control of Kandahar Province continues, efforts at reconciliation are also moving ahead. President Obama plans, by December, to reassess his strategy, based on progress made in breaking the back of the Taliban at least in Kandahar. While the U.S. military remains optimistic, some analysts say the optimism should be tempered based on what they saw on the ground.

    Battles between NATO troops and Taliban fighters continue in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province. The U.S. military sees the conflict in Kandahar as a potential indicator of how well President Obama's surge is working. Mr. Obama plans to re-assess that strategy next month.

    "I have to say it is still hard fighting, it is work in progress," said NATO Brigadier General Josef Blotz. "It will take some more weeks and months to actually completely clear the entire area of Kandahar city and the contiguous districts "

    Reporting in the U.S. media is often contradictory. Some reports say NATO is making steady progress ahead of the December deadline. Others say the Taliban is melting away rather than fight.

    Two reporters who recently returned from Afghanistan say the optimism must be tempered to take account of the reality on the ground. They spoke at the New American Foundation in Washington.

    Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post says now when Taliban fighters try to melt away, NATO troops are going after them. They are even killing from overhead - using drones like this one.

    "They say this is having an effect, that the Taliban is getting dispirited, that this has something to do with why some people at least want to talk now or want to reintegrate," she said. "The problem is, at least from a journalistic standpoint, that we have no way to prove this."

    Once the troops rout the Taliban, the next step is tougher. NATO troops try to win the trust of local residents.  

    Anna Badkhen has reported from Afghanistan for several newspapers. She says for some villagers, the Taliban is less of a concern than the Americans. She asked one Afghan if he was worried about the Taliban coming to his village.

    "He said, No, I have nothing to worry about the Taliban. I am very religious. I already pray five times a day. My wives already can't go outside because I don't let them. What I am worried about is that when the Taliban are going to come here, then the Americans are going to come here, and raid my house and bomb my village and God forbid they are going to hurt someone and scare my children," Badkhen said.

    DeYoung is skeptical about reported talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. She says it's not certain that the Afghans talking to the government represent the Taliban.

    "I think it is not clear at all at this point whether those people who are having these very preliminary talks are having them on behalf of the people who actually have the power to implement any kind of agreement," she said.

    Anna Badkhen doubts the Afghan government can lure young Afghans who have joined the Taliban for money, not for ideology. She says the Taliban is already recruiting new fighters from among the thousands of Afghan refugees returning home from Pakistan.

    "Now they are coming back because the Karzai government is inviting them back and then it is dumping them in infertile deserts with no access to healthcare, no access to jobs," she said. "These people are being recruited by the Taliban in the north."

    Some analysts say the military is the only group in or outside Afghanistan that sees progress. The NGO workers, election monitors, and longtime residents the two reporters spoke to saw nothing but gloom.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.