Afghanistan’s government has welcomed the pledge by US President Donald Trump to step up the campaign against the Taliban and increase the number of US troops in the country.
On the streets of Kabul, some residents were optimistic about the move, but others said they were tired of conflicts and didn’t want the Americans.
The Taliban reacted defiantly, an audio statement on its website vowing to continue the jihad as long as even one American soldier remained in Afghanistan.
Despite the lack of specifics in Donald Trump’s speech, the country’s second most powerful official behind the president said the new strategy provided a unique opportunity to fight militants.
“I’m sure that the announcement of the policy and implementation of it will affect the situation in favour of the Afghan National Security forces,” said Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.
“The message is very clear, that if there are groups that think they can win militarily, they should give up their thinking. And because as long as they continue on fighting there will be pressure on them, there will be increased pressure on them, and that was to make clear to them that there is not any ambiguity left.”
NATO allies, called on by Trump to provide more cash for the war effort, have also welcomed the move to commit more forces.
“NATO remains fully committed to Afghanistan and I am looking forward to discussing the way ahead with (Defence) Secretary (James) Mattis and our allies and international partners,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, adding that the alliance had 12,000 troops in Afghanistan, with 15 countries pledging more.
NATO member the United Kingdom called the US commitment “very welcome”. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said it would help build up Afghanistan’s “fragile democracy and reduce the terrorist threat to the West”.
But putting an end to the 16-year conflict is a monumental task.
Despite the president’s rhetoric, his policy is being seen by some as broadly similar to that of his predecessor Barack Obama.