News / Asia

US Withdrawal from Iraq Looms Over Afghan War

Multimedia

Audio

As U.S. combat troops are pulled out of Iraq, attention is turning to Afghanistan.  President Barack Obama has pledged to begin pulling out troops there as well, starting next year.  The Iraq withdrawal might have an effect on political and military calculations by officials in Washington and Kabul, particularly by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.



In announcing the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq, President Obama made it clear that Afghanistan's turn is next.

"Next August, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility," he said. "The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground, and our support for Afghanistan will endure.  But make no mistake - this transition will begin because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people's."

Analysts say the Iraq withdrawal has highlighted for leaders in Iran, Pakistan and other regional states that the United States intends to pull out its forces.

Larry Goodson of the U.S. Army War College says no one is considering the implications more than Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"All of the regional actors now alter their calculus a bit, but none more obviously and skittishly than Karzai because he is really the one whose neck is in the noose.  He is the one who would literally be hanging from a lamppost within a month, let us say, if the U.S. and NATO forces withdrew today.  Or at least that is what I think would happen."

'Morale boost for the Taliban'

President Karzai recently told a visiting U.S. congressional delegation that the withdrawal date is a morale boost for the Taliban.

Larry Goodson says Mr. Karzai might be looking for ways to keep U.S. troops around longer than President Obama and his advisors have planned.

"I think he is looking for the,  'O.K., the U.S. is no longer here or maybe I can, through certain political moves and maneuvers, continue to play the United States and keep them here a bit longer or keep them engaged in some fashion a bit longer.'  I realize I attributed some Machiavellian sort of tendencies to Hamid Karzai.  But I think that he has demonstrated that he has got some political skills," he said.

The U.S.-Karzai relationship has been through some rough patches, especially lately.  President Karzai has been sharply critical of the United States, especially over civilian casualties, and U.S. officials continue to pressure the Afghan leader to clean up corruption in his government. 

Analyst Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress in Washington says the United States has been inconsistent in its approach to President Karzai.

"We have wavered under President Bush and even under President Obama," he said. "One moment it seems like we are reading him the riot act; the next moment we are rolling out the red carpet for him here in Washington, D.C.  And none of it seems to work."

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are radically different, but the overall strategy is similar - to build up indigenous forces to the point that they can handle security duties on their own, thus allowing U.S. troops to go home.  But many analysts voice concern about when or if Afghan security forces will be capable to stand on their own.

The presence of Taliban sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan remains a nagging issue.  

Analyst Brian Katulis says the handling of the matter of Pakistan has been what he terms a quiet success for the Obama administration.  He says the U.S.-Pakistan relationship was "hanging by a thread" in 2007, but that Pakistan has since become more energetic about taking on the militants.

"So there has been a much more aggressive counter-terrorism approach," said Katulis. "There has been an outreach to a range of Pakistani leaders to take a different approach.  They have changed."

"They have not changed 100 percent, but they have moved in the right sort of direction.  And I think what we need to see, and ultimately a key to Afghanistan and our ability to complete the mission there, is actually getting actors like Pakistan to play a more responsible role.  And I think we have taken some modest steps in the right direction there," he added.

But Taliban fighters have not reduced their attacks on international forces, although the coming winter is expected to slow them down.  Many analysts say the Taliban wants to keep up the pressure on the Karzai government until the United States and its allies leave and then try to strike a political deal with President Karzai, or whoever is in charge of the Afghan government at the time.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
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 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 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 US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
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 Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
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.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs