Barack Obama is believed to be close to making a decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan.
The US President has been holding a national security team meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates. America has 68,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and the White House war council is debating sending as many as 40,000 more to tackle a growing Taliban insurgency. An announcement is expected by next week at the earliest, ahead of a NATO meeting in December. One factor that has complicated the deliberations has been corruption in Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government. Obama needs to know he has a credible partner in Kabul. During Karzai’s recent inauguration Hillary Clinton reminded him of his duty to ensure his administration is beyond reproach. It is no coincidence that two Afghan cabinet ministers are under investigation on suspicion of embezzlement. Key to the discussions taking place is when Obama’s advisors think US troops will be able to handover responsibility for security matters to the Afghan police and army. It is not just a matter of how many more troops are needed, it is a question of how soon they could then be pulled out.