The Islamic Post Blog


US, NATO Adjust Role in Afghanistan by Khalida
May 21, 2009, 5:55 am
Filed under: International, May Volume I - 2009, World

(IP) –At the Strasbourg-Kehl Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), heads of state members of the military organization “agreed to a number of new initiatives for Afghanistan, including a significant expansion of the training and support effort for Afghan National Security Forces, enhanced engagement with neighbouring countries and a more integrated approach to working with the International Community and the Afghan Government to implement the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS),” according to a NATO statement.
“Enhancing Afghan Government leadership, including at the provincial and district levels, is needed to speed the delivery of justice, basic services and employment opportunities, especially in the agricultural sector,” continued the statement. “The NATO leaders recognized that to do this work will require a greater civilian component to the forces being sent to Afghanistan.”
In attendance at the summit were 26 nations.
NATO confirmed that Heads of State and Government agree that, as a member of the broader International Community, NATO will “support Afghan-led efforts to reconcile with those who renounce violence, accept the Constitution, and have no links to Al-Qaeda.” This stance was elaborated upon by US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton during a press conference. Secretary Clinton was asked by the Dutch Telegraaf to clarify the difference between reconciliation with more moderate elements and “negotiating with terrorists” –a stance which was firmly negated by the previous US administration. Mrs Clinton replied as follows: “It is our best estimate that the vast majority of Taliban fighters and members are people who are not committed to a cause so much as acting out of desperation. And therefore, an offer of not only reconciliation, but a chance for them to be reintegrated into Afghan society, to perhaps have employment, to get help with their property in terms of preparing it for agricultural production, we think that there are a number of people who are currently in the Taliban who would accept such an offer.”
However “It has to be proven that they are willing to walk away from the Taliban. We did see quite a bit of this in Iraq, where people who had taken up arms against the United States and against the coalition and against the elected Iraqi Government decided to walk away from their involvement in return for the position in society and a job that was offered to them. And I think that this is very likely the course that we can take with respect to members of the Taliban, too,” concluded Secretary Clinton.
Her statement came shortly after US President Barack Obama announced the adjusted US policy for Afghanistan, noting his concern for “the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan who have suffered the most at the hands of violent extremists.”
President Obama accurately predicted that NATO would be in agreement with more public diplomacy being added to the Afghan effort, along with more troops.
Sources: NATO, State Dept., WhiteHouse.gov

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