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

Ukraine President Appeals for More US Support

Speaking before Congress ahead of meeting with President Obama, Petro Poroshenko urges lawmakers to back Ukraine in its quest for freedom and democracy More

Photogallery Global Audience Watches as Scots Go to Polls

People were almost equally divided over a vote for independence, watched closely by Britain's allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad More

China to Invest $20B in India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high-profile visit 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid