As US President Barack Obama probably made his final policy decision on Afghanistan by retaining 8,400 troops in the war-torn country by the end of his presidency next January, the White House said the next president will have to make some “substantial weighty” decisions on the US’ current relationship with Afghanistan.
“There is no denying that the next President will have to make some substantial weighty decisions with regard to our ongoing relationship with Afghanistan, with regard to our ongoing strategy for countering extremists that continue to try to threaten US interests that are based in Afghanistan,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
Obama on Wednesday announced that he would have 8,400 troops in Afghanistan as against 5,500 planned earlier. Thereafter it would be taken over by the next president.
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“There will be substantial questions to be answered and decisions to be made about our ongoing relationship with the Afghan government. But there’s no denying the progress that we’ve made and the change that — the relationship between the United States and Afghanistan that we have seen as a result of the decisions made by President Obama over the last eight years,” he said even as he strongly denied that the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated.
“The truth is, this situation in Afghanistan has improved because of the strategy that we do have in place. We did succeed in decimating core al-Qaeda in the Afghanistan- Pakistan region,” he said.
“We do have a much more effective partner in the Afghan central government because of the diplomatic efforts of officials at the State Department and other agencies. There is a much more effective Afghan security force, both in terms of law enforcement and military, that are doing a better job of securing the country,” Earnest said.
“But Afghanistan remains a dangerous place and there’s still significant work that needs to be done, but there’s no denying the progress that Afghanistan has made, and there’s no denying the degree to which the safety of the United States has been enhanced because of the strategy that has been successfully implemented by President Obama and his national security team,” he said.
When Obama took office seven and half years ago, there were about 38,000 US troops in Afghanistan. It jumped to more than 100,000 in 2011-2012.
“This doesn’t just reduce the exposure of our men and women in uniform; it also enhances the longer-term outlook for the security situation in Afghanistan. The previous administration tried the approach where the US would try to impose a military solution on a country like Afghanistan. That’s not a long-term solution,” he said.