Afghan head of state Hamid Karzai has welcomed his American counterpart Barack Obama’s plans to start bringing troops home to the USA. On the other hand, the military withdrawal raises concern that billions of dollars of civilian aid will dry up, leaving the Afghans gasping.
The US President on Wednesday evening in Washington, in a national televised address, said: “We will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point. After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace, as Afghan Security forces move into the lead”.
But since the Taliban are not leaving, weakness in the Afghan army and police means weaning Afghanistan off US troop strength and foreign aid should not be rushed, said Afghan Colonel Mohammad Amin Wahidi:
“The international community still has responsibilities in Afghanistan. Their responsibilities have not finished yet because there is still a war going on. We are asking not to be forgotten. We are still not standing on our own feet, even after the transition, and we need financial help.”
The Afghan Taliban dismissed Obama’s announcement as symbolic. The insurgents rejected any suggestion that US-led forces have made gains against them, and said only a full, immediate withdrawal of foreign forces could stop “pointless bloodshed”.