Wednesday, April 22, 2009

President Obama's Afghanistan plans debated...

Obama's Afghanistan war plan: What do the experts think?

by Shane Dingman
Thomson Reuters

Afghanistan, World:

Reuters reports U.S. President Barack Obama announced Friday that the United States will deploy about 4,000 more troops to train Afghan security forces in a new strategy to fight al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents.

“The situation is increasingly perilous. It’s been more than seven years since the Taliban was removed from power, yet war rages on, insurgents control parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Mr. Obama said in unveiling his strategy.

What do stakeholders think of the new plan?

Nassrullah Stanakzai, analyst and lecturer in Political Science At Kabul University:

“The plan to strengthen the army and the police is a very valuable idea ... After seven years the United States has recognized that Afghanistan is not the base of terrorism. The terrorism is on the other side of the border.
“The al Qaeda training camps are being led from Pakistan, their leaders are in Pakistan. The best thing in this strategy is that it includes the whole region.”
Shukria Barakzai, Afghan member of parliament
“Do not focus more on troops because as long as their number increases, humanitarian aid and assistance will be ignored and undermined."

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States:

“The government of Pakistan ... believes that it is an extraordinarily positive sign that the Obama administration is thoroughly re-examining its policy toward our region, reevaluating and reinvigorating our common efforts to contain terrorism and extremism.”
“We have been especially pleased by the new level of consultation and partnership that the administration has demonstrated in producing this new strategy and President Obama’s personal engagement at this critical time. It bodes well not only for a stronger regional approach to a clearly regional problem, but to a more mature bilateral relationship between the United States and Pakistan.”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton:

“More than anything else, I am pleased that we finally have a strategy to address Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan has been the forgotten war, and President Obama corrects this regrettable mistake. There is no guarantee of success with this strategy, but not having a strategy, as we have not for the past eight years, is certainly a guarantee of failure. At last, we can finally see a way ahead in this most important war.”
“Over the coming months, the House Armed Services Committee will carefully examine this strategy and how well it meets our goals. Some may disagree with it. But all of us appreciate the critical importance of having a strategy.”

Congressman John McHugh, senior Republican on House Armed Services Committee:

“We welcome the president’s strategic direction for the fight in Afghanistan. It appears to be based on the advice of his commanders, and it includes long-standing objectives that House Republicans support and have advocated for.”
“This strategy, as outlined to me, supports General McKiernan’s request for an additional brigade to train the Afghan National Security Forces. The President should also immediately approve the General’s long-standing requirement for nearly 10,000 more troops.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier:

“(The new U.S. strategy) is a lot closer to the European perception of what our presence is.”

Taliban commander Mullah Hayat Khan:

“Sending more troops will have no impact on the activities of the Taliban.”

© Thomson Reuters 2009


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