Thursday, December 3, 2009

Afghan Reaction to Obama speeh


"It was a very wonderful speech for America ... but when it comes to strategy in Afghanistan there was nothing really new, which was disappointing."

-- Afghan parliamentarian Shukriya Barakzai, on her disappointment with US President Barack Obama’s announcement of a massive new escalation of the eight-year-old war, as his speech contained little talk of civilian aid. "It seems to me that President Obama is very far away from the reality and truth in Afghanistan. His strategy was to pay lip-service, and did not focus on civilians, nation-building, democracy and human rights," she told Reuters from her home. Obama said some 30,000 extra US forces, and at least 5,000 expected from other NATO allies, will join 110,000 Western troops already in the country in an effort to reverse gains made by the Islamist militants, now at their strongest since being ousted in 2001. He also set an 18-month timetable for starting a withdrawal. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the new US plan for Afghanistan, and said the United Nations remains committed to supporting a transition to increased Afghan ownership, responsibility and leadership for peace and development in the country. Ban noted with appreciation the “proposed approach to balance military and civilian efforts and the emphasis on strengthening the capacity of Afghan institutions and Afghan security forces in particular,” his spokesperson said in a statement. In Afghanistan, a statement from the presidential palace noted only that the government welcomed Obama’s new strategy for the support it offered in development and training for Afghan institutions and in protecting the Afghan people, the New York Times reports. It also commended the plan for the recognition that terrorists were operating in the region beyond Afghanistan’s borders in Pakistan.

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