What has the U.S. gained in the past 10 years of military presence in Afghanistan regarding al-Qaida and Taliban?
As Afghanistan is expected to take full responsibility for their security by 2014, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States has achieved its mission to topple al-Qaida’s and the Taliban’s reign in the country and in the region.
In his remarks at Youth Connect: Addis Ababa Featured by BBC’s Hardtalk in Ethiopia, Secretary Kerry says US troops went to Afghanistan to destroy the threat of al-Qaida coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He says the extremist group attacked US and killed more than 3,000 people in an absolutely unexpected, totally motivated-by-them attack against the United States.
He noted the involvement of Osama bin Laden on the 9/11 attack.
US troops went to Afghanistan to hold them accountable for that act, he stressed.
“And the answer is yes, we have achieved that mission. We have destroyed the fundamental capacity of al-Qaida.” – Secretary Kerry
However, Secretary Kerry says there still remains a few and there still is some threat. But, the US has hugely reduced the ability of al-Qaida to threaten the United States.
US wants to talk to the Taliban?
Secretary Kerry underlines that the requirement for the Taliban to come to the table was that they agree that they will not engage in violence against other people and violence against other countries, they won’t engage in terrorism, that they will not threaten the Afghan constitution, and so forth.
“So, if they meet those standards, we believe we should sit down and explore. You don’t give up anything until you say, “Yes.” – Secretary Kerry
He explains that in 1972, people thought that the United States shouldn’t talk to China because of Mao Zedong and Communism.
He points out that Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon thought otherwise, and today the US works with China.
“The United Nations, China is joining us in trying to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon.” – Secretary Kerry
He adds that you can’t work things out if you’re not willing to explore the possibilities that people will change their view and express something different.
US Helps Afghanistan manage three transitions: security, political, economic
Afghanistan is managing three very significant transitions: a security transition, a political transition, and an economic transition.
The US also supports the Afghan-led peace process, recognizing that the reconciliation is the best way to try to provide the surest end to violence and to secure a unified and sovereign Afghanistan.
The US government continues to join with President Karzai in calling on the Taliban to join a political process, to renounce violence and join in a political process.
At the same time, the US continues to use drones to seek out and kill Taliban in Pakistan, especially those who carry out cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. Yesterday, the Taliban number two commander in Pakistan was killed. Although the US did not acknowledge a drone strike, it is suspected a US drone was used. The commander, Wali ur-Rehman, was one of four people reported dead, according to reports, including this one in the Washington Post
Afghanistan moving closer to self-governing, to self-determination, self-reliance?
The US reports that fewer Afghan women are dying in childbirth, more of them have been elected to parliament, and more of their children, especially their daughters, are going to school.
Many more Afghans are connected through the air and on the ground, with access to technologies like cell phones rising.
And more roads have been built in the past 10 years than in the entire previous history of Afghanistan.
The US emphasizes that there’s a lot of work yet to do, but with each of these steps, Afghanistan is moving closer to self-governing, to self-determination, self-reliance.
Afghanistan Expected to Take Full Responsibility for Its Security By 2014
With the recent announcement that 34,000 US troops will withdraw from Afghanistan, the United States of America today announced the US goal is for Afghans to take full responsibility for their security by 2014.
For the past decade, tens of billions of dollars in security-related spending have fueled consumption and economic growth in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia.
Since last November 2012, seven provinces and municipalities have already begun transition.
US Pledges Long-term Military Commitment
The US 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 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 also 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 the country.
The US government has supported President Karzai in his effort to have an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led reconciliation process.
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 2013.
The U.S. government has made significant progress towards their goals as well.
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.