Afghanistan: Taliban vows to fight on

2011-06-23 14:00
Washingtom - President Barack Obama's decision to bring 33 000 US surge troops home from Afghanistan by next summer was welcomed by allies on Thursday but dismissed by Taliban insurgents who vowed to fight on.

The Taliban dismissed the withdrawal as a "symbolic step".

In an e-mailed statement, the Taliban stressed that "the solution for the Afghan crisis lies in the full withdrawal of all foreign troops immediately" - and that "our armed struggle will increase" until that happens.

More than 1 600 US soldiers have died in Afghanistan since the invasion after the September 11 2001 attacks, including at least 187 this year alone.

Despite Pentagon appeals for a more modest drawdown, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the plan provides "enough resources, time and, perhaps most importantly, flexibility to bring the surge to a successful conclusion".

The president spoke against the backdrop of growing domestic questioning of the purpose of the war, especially following the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden last month.

More than 65 000 troops left

Obama expressed support for fragile Afghan reconciliation talks with the Taliban, saying they could make progress "in part because of our military effort".

But despite the drawdowns, there will still be more than 65 000 troops in Afghanistan when Obama seeks a second term in November 2012 elections.

Turning to al-Qaeda, Obama said documents seized from bin Laden's compound in Pakistan showed the organisation was under "enormous strain".

One official said the US operation against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal regions had "exceeded our expectations", saying 20 of the group's top 30 leaders had been killed in the last year.

With US-Pakistan ties still raw after the bin Laden raid, Obama said he would insist Islamabad keep its commitments to fight the "cancer" of violent extremism.

Obama's plans drew a mixed reaction.

Karzai welcomes move

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the partial withdrawal was a "natural result" of progress on the ground.

"We can see the tide is turning. The Taliban are under pressure. The Afghan security forces are getting stronger every day. And the transition to Afghan security lead is on track to be completed in 2014," he added.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai also welcomed the announcement, as did US allies Germany and France, which said they would embark on similar withdrawals.

But hawkish Republican Senator John McCain said Obama was taking an "unnecessary risk" and noted Petraeus and Gates had recommended a slower withdrawal.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney meanwhile suggested Obama's motivation was political, saying: "We all want our troops to come home as soon as possible, but we shouldn't adhere to an arbitrary timetable."

Obama placed the Afghan mission in the context of his wider foreign policy and war strategy, arguing he has drawn down 100 000 troops from Iraq and will oversee a full withdrawal by the end of this year.

He also said a Nato summit to review progress on Afghanistan will take place in Chicago in May 2012, alongside the G8 summit of industrialised nations.

- SAPA
Read more on:    taliban  |  al-qaeda  |  barack obama  |  hamid karzai  |  osama bin laden  |  john mccain  |  us  |  afghanistan  |  war
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off all TV Series!

Want to have a chilled day at home? Get 20% off TV series, the perfect excuse to "veg out". Shop now!

Save R700 on the Hisense LED TV Now R2499

Get the Hisense 32” HD ready LED TV for only R2499. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Your ideas may feel like a sea of thoughts swimming around every which way, and now you need to find something to contain them in...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.