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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid