Obama to Announce New Afghanistan Strategy
VOA, White House,
U.S. President Barack Obama has decided on a new Afghan strategy that includes a
greater emphasis on regional diplomacy, and an increase in American military and
civilian personnel. The president will unveil his plan later on Friday.
U.S. officials say the strategic goal is simple: to disrupt, dismantle and
destroy al-Qaida and its allies, remove their safe havens in Pakistan, and
prevent them from regrouping in Afghanistan.
They say the president's new approach is regional in scope and includes three
elements: military action, diplomacy, and support for development.
These officials - who briefed reporters on the condition they would not be
identified - say the United States, will send an extra 4,000 troops to
Afghanistan to help train the Afghan armed forces.
That would be on top of the 17,000 additional combat and support troops
President Obama wants deployed in Afghanistan over the coming months. By
October, the overall force level - including trainers - should reach 59,000
Along with the military trainers, the United States will also be sending
hundreds more American civilians with special expertise in areas ranging from
farming to legal systems.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - speaking at a news conference in Monterrey,
Mexico- said the civilian component is essential.
"We are convinced that that is the most critical underpinning of any success we
hope to achieve along with the people and government of Afghanistan," Clinton
Clinton will be discussing the Afghan situation in the coming days with roughly
70 of her counterparts from around the world at a series of conferences and
Meanwhile, veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke will be stepping up his efforts as
a special envoy to Southwest Asia, and will be meeting with leaders there on a
Officials say this will be a true regional diplomacy with the United States
reaching out to every country with a stake in the region, including Iran.
They say for the first time, U.S. diplomacy will be based on the premise that
Afghanistan and Pakistan are intertwined. As one official put it, " they are
two countries, but one challenge."
A particular focus of the new strategy is the area around the
Pakistan-Afghanistan border - a lawless region of rough terrain where many
analysts believe al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden remains in hiding.
The United States has been urging Pakistan to take greater action against
militants in the border region for some time. The Obama administration is now
offering to triple humanitarian assistance to Pakistan. But administration
officials make clear Washington will want assurances that Islamabad is taking
necessary steps against extremists.
This new strategy is the result of a formal 60-day policy review that involved
analysts from both inside and outside government. There were considerable
consultations with foreign leaders, including those who will take part in next
week's NATO summit on the French-German border where President Obama is expected
to ask for greater support for the effort to secure Afghanistan and counter the
threat from militants in the region.
... Payvand News - 03/27/09 ... --