Friday, June 24, 2011

Afghans Wary of U.S. Drawdown

At Los Angeles Times, "Afghans fear U.S. drawdown will allow Taliban to regroup":
Next month, Afghanistan is expected to assume security responsibility in two provinces, four provincial capitals and most of Kabul. One of those provincial capitals, Lashkar Gah in Helmand, has been the site of fierce fighting between coalition troops and Taliban insurgents. Even relatively quiet provinces like Bamian, also slated for a handoff to Afghan forces next month, recently have been hit by Taliban violence. This year, the beheaded corpse of the Bamian provincial council chief was found on a roadside.

[Hamid] Karzai welcomed Obama's speech, saying the drawdown announcement signaled the start of Afghanistan's self-determination.

"Every nation protects its own land, and Afghans can do it better," he said in a statement. "We have proved it over the course of history, and we are proud of that."

Nevertheless, Afghans say the drawdown probably will rekindle fear of a U.S. abandonment of the region akin to that of the early 1990s, when the Soviet Union collapsed and Washington no longer saw a need to nurture strong links with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Washington has said on numerous occasions that it will not make the same mistake, but Afghans remain unconvinced.

"America left us, and Afghanistan became a safe haven for terrorists," said Samad, a manager of a Kabul wedding hall who, like many Afghans, goes by one name.
Also at Agence France-Presse, "Withdrawal Symptoms: Afghans Anxious Over Obama’s Out of Afghanistan Plan."

I think it's a mistake, but Obama's on a political timetable, not a strategic one.

And ICYMI, see that Charles Lane essay at WaPo, "Obama’s Afghanistan exit."