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Afghanistan post-2014

May 22, 2012

NATO has agreed on a plan to wind down its war in Afghanistan, which US President Obama said would not "stand alone." In the war-torn country itself there are many doubts, except on the part of the government.

Image: dapd

The Afghan government seems satisfied with the results of the NATO summit in Chicago. One member of the Afghan delegation told DW that all their demands had been met. Afghan national security forces will assume full responsibility for keeping peace from mid-2013 onwards, as was proposed by the government in Kabul. NATO troops will withdraw by the end of 2014, but the alliance will provide a new non-combat mission "to train, advise and assist" the Afghan army.

The assistance program is due to last at least until 2024, at a cost of US $4 million per year. This is support that will not only help Afghanistan, said Janan Musazai, spokesman for the Afghan foreign ministry. "The security situation in Afghanistan directly influences the security situation in the region and the world. Against this backdrop, the help that we are receiving is not a free handout, but an investment for a better situation in the world."

President Hamid Karzai and his entourage have also let it be known that they are not ungrateful, but that the fight against international terrorism is a joint challenge Afghanistan and the world have to face together. In this sense, they see Chicago as a success because the world is continuing to support Afghanistan.

'Not a good decision'

However, other observers of the situation are not of the same opinion. Many experts accuse Kabul of embellishing the facts. They say that NATO is not following Afghanistan's orders at all. The situation is quite the reverse, with Kabul having to accept whatever has been decided. NATO members agreed on the withdrawal in Chicago for domestic policy and financial reasons - at a time when the Taliban are getting increasingly strong,” said Atiqullah Baryalai, a former general. "This is not a good decision for Afghanistan."

He added that NATO was leaving Afghanistan without taking a look at the reality and said that the Afghan security forces were far from being in a position to deal with all the challenges.

General a.D. Hassan Mukhtar also criticized the fact that the Afghan army still didn’t have any air force or artillery units. "Moreover, Afghan soldiers have only had a very short training and this is not suitable for fighting on the battlefield. Many soldiers and police officers are illiterate which hampers their training considerably."

A conflict of loyalties

Another weak point, Mukhtar said, is that soldiers and police officers are not always loyal to the state and often display more loyalty to tribal leaders or powerful warlords. He added that the growing influence of the Taliban on parts of the army and police was particularly worrying.

Military expert and former member of parliament Helaludin Helal agrees that it is completely wrong to hand over responsibility for the whole country to the Afghan security forces within a year. "It's an overhasty decision. NATO agreed to a fast handover for populist reasons, but it knows that the Afghan police and army are not capable of meeting this challenge."

He also warned against reducing the number of Afghan troops from 352,000 to 230,000 after the NATO withdrawal. It is understandable that NATO needs to save, he said, but to do this at the wrong end would only speed up the return of the Taliban and their allies.

Author: Ratbil Shamel/act

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan