Citing that transitioning security responsibility to the Afghans is necessary for stability, the United States of America today announced the Afghan National Security Forces now have the lead in overseeing security for nearly 90 percent of the Afghan population.
In her remarks at a Security Council Debate on Afghanistan, US Permanent Representative to UN Ambassador Susan Rice says with the recent announcement of the fourth tranche, 52 new districts in the north and center of Afghanistan will soon be secured by Afghan forces.
More US troops coming home next year!
According to Ms. Rice, as President Obama announced last month, over 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan by February of next year.
The US expects the fifth and final tranche of the transition will be announced this spring, when Afghans will lead for security across their entire country.
US and Afghanistan working together to achieve shared goals
According to Ms. Rice, Afghanistan and the international community are at an important juncture.
“As we have seen in recent weeks, challenges remain, but we continue to work together to achieve our shared goals.” – Ms. Rice
She says President Karzai visited Washington in January and discussed with President Obama strengthening Afghanistan’s democratic institutions and supporting the country’s long-term economic and social development.
President Obama and President Karzai also reaffirmed the U.S.-Afghanistan Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement they signed in May 2012, she highlighted.
Security remains a key for stability in Afghanistan
Ms. Rice underlines that while transitioning security responsibility to the Afghans is necessary for stability, it is not itself sufficient.
In this regard, Ms. Rice indicates that an inclusive and credible presidential election in 2014 is critical for the country’s future and to sustaining international assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
The results of this election must produce an outcome that is legitimately accepted by the Afghan people, she added.
The announcement of the election date by the Independent Election Commission is an important step, and its timely completion of a comprehensive operational plan will be another, she pointed out.
Reconciliation critical for stability
In addition, Ms. Rice says Afghan-led reconciliation is important for stability – the best way to end conflict and bring lasting peace to Afghanistan and the region.
The US continues to support the opening of an office in Doha, Qatar, to facilitate negotiations between the High Peace Council and the authorized representatives of the Taliban.
She notes as a part of the outcome of any process, the Taliban and other armed opposition groups must end violence, break ties with Al-Qaeda, and accept Afghanistan’s Constitution.
Ms. Rice points out that theoutcomes of peace and reconciliation must respect the historic achievements that a unified and sovereign Afghanistan has made over the past decade, including protecting the rights of all citizens of Afghanistan as guaranteed under the Constitution.
Status of women elevated in Afghanistan
According to Ms. Rice, over the past decade, Afghan women have emerged from the total oppression imposed by Taliban rule.
She says women are essential partners and contributors to building a strong civil society and a stable nation.
Afghan women hold office at the national, provincial, and local levels; serve on the High Peace Council and in provincial peace councils, Ms. Rice stated.
“They start and run businesses of all kinds and organize to serve their communities and have their voices heard.” – Ms. Rice
She adds as Afghanistan builds a better future, the contributions, intrinsic worth, and fundamental dignity of Afghan women must continue to be embraced.
UNAMA will stay for another year!
According to Ms. Rice, since 2002, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has played an indispensible role in the country’s progress.
As Afghanistan continues its transition, Ms. Rice notes UNAMA needs to remain a committed partner, and the Council needs to sustain its support during this crucial time.
She says UNAMA has weathered significant budget reductions over the last two years, and she believes these cuts have gone as far as they reasonably can.
UNAMA’s resources should be stabilized now and a mission allowed to carry out its mandate with its core functions intact, she emphasized.
“UNAMA remains a priority and must be resourced as such.” – Ms. Rice
The US appreciates the support of the United Nations in Afghanistan and are pleased to have extended UNAMA’s mandate for another year.
Afghans to take full responsibility for their security by 2014
With the recent announcement that 34,000 US troops will withdraw in Afghanistan, the United States of America has said US goal is for Afghans to take full responsibility for their security by 2014.
Since November 2012, seven provinces and municipalities have already begun transition.
In many ways, the growth Afghanistan has seen is remarkable, and they should not minimize the gains made over the past decade.
However, US is concerned that these gains may not be sustainable and may prove reversible unless the region and the international community start to take action before combat forces leave and foreign spending decreases.
Challenges to Afghanistan taking over for its security
According to the Bank’s analysis, it has shown that fiscal sustainability will be a major challenge particularly covering the cost of security forces and maintaining existing infrastructure.
It requires immediate attention by all parties- Afghanistan, the region, and international donors.
Growing Afghanistan’s own economy will be vital to this effort.
According to, the Afghan government put forward a vision for its economic future based on increased private sector investment and expanded regional trade.
US pledges for long-term military commitment
America is negotiating a Strategic Partnership agreement that signals our long-term civil-military commitment.
US knows the cost of neglecting Afghanistan as well.
The US will continue to support the sovereign rights of the people of Afghanistan.
US knows the cost of walking away from Afghanistan and continuing to invest now may well save them from paying a higher price down the road.
US combat operations will end in Afghanistan
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has stated that major US combat operations will end in Afghanistan by 2014.
According to the decisions that were made by NATO which includes the United States, they would end major combat operations in 2014, the end of the year.
US asserts that there is an enduring commitment that a number of countries have already made to the Afghans, including the United States, but also the UK, France, and others have said they don’t want Afghanistan to end up the way it did after the Soviet Union left and those countries that had been funding the fight against the Soviet Union retreated.
In July 2012, with its commitment to strengthen Afghanistan’s institutions, the United States of America announced that Afghanistan is officially designated as its major non-NATO ally.
The Afghan National Security Forces are improving their capacity to protect the Afghan people.
The Afghans are in the process of taking the lead in more than 75 percent of the population’s living areas in order to provide security.
The Government of Afghanistan has signed partnership agreements with many countries, and the United States is among those.
US and Afghanistan Partnership
Both nations have worked together to set forth a long-term political, diplomatic, and security partnership, and it entered into force just a few days ago.
The US government sees this alliance as a powerful symbol of its commitment to Afghanistan’s future.
The United States wants to continue to invest in doing what the Afghans believe they need.
The United States will continue to protect Afghanistan from any efforts by insurgents and outsiders to destabilize Afghanistan.
The US government has supported President Karzai in his effort to have an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led reconciliation process.
The US government pledges to continue its support and to work with the Afghans to get more international support, Ms. Clinton stressed.
In December 2011, the United States withdrew 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
July 2011 marked the beginning of a responsible transition that will see Afghan forces gradually taking the lead in securing their own country.
By 2014, the process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.
The Afghan security forces move into the lead, the United States continues to reduce its military footprint. Its mission will change from combat to support. The remaining 23,000 “surge” troops in December 2009 will leave Afghanistan by the end of summer 2012.
The U.S. government has made significant progress towards their goals.
Reports say the U.S. government is redoubling its efforts to pursue a peaceful end to the conflict in the region.
The U.S. government has taken tangible steps to advance Afghan reconciliation and reintegration initiatives, including support to the Afghan High Peace Council and provincial police and reintegration councils.