US expert casts doubt on strategic deal
WASHINGTON (PAN): The Afghan-US strategic partnership agreement raises as many questions as it answers, an eminent American expert has said, claiming President Barack Obama has been in two minds toward Afghanistan since the outset of his presidency.
“In December 2009, en route to tripling the US military presence there, he declared that US military forces would begin to withdraw from that country in eighteen months.
“Now, two-and-a-half years later, he stated that US military forces would continue to leave Afghanistan but that American soldiers would remain in the country until at least 2024,” said Richard N Haas, president of th Council on Foreign Relations.
The announcement of the US-Afghan strategic deal raised at least as many questions as it answered, Haas claimed, a day after Obama signed the agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul.
“How many US troops will remain in the country after 2014 and what will be their precise role? What will be the ultimate scale of Afghan army and police forces? How much will all this cost and what will be the US share?” Haas asked.
“And what is the extent of the US commitment to Afghanistan if, as is all too possible, this mix of Afghan and US effort is not enough in the face of Taliban's ruthlessness, Pakistani provision of a sanctuary for the Taliban and Afghan corruption and divisions?” he questioned.
Haas said the bigger question over the president's speech was not that some US forces were to stay in Afghanistan -- American forces have remained in other hot spots for decades and played a useful role -- but centers on the purpose and scale of the ongoing commitment.
Obama put forward two rationales -- first is that absent of this effort -- Al-Qaeda could establish itself once more inside the country. This is of course true. But it could regroup in Afghanistan even with this effort.
More important, it is not clear how this possibility would distinguish Afghanistan from, say, Yemen or Somalia or Nigeria,” he said.
“The global effort against terror is just that -- global-- and there is no reason for the effort in Afghanistan to be large. It is not the central battleground in a struggle against an enemy with access to dozens of countries,” Haas said.
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