Afghanistan Strategy Discussed between Obama and Karzai
Tonight at 8pm EST, President Obama will be unveiling his strategy for Afghanistan. President Obama was burning up the phone lines yesterday briefing his allies.
It is widely believed that President Obama will increase the troop levels surging the total commitment of U.S. troops from 68,000 to 100,000.
General McChrystal had asked for 40,000 troops in his report. Britain has agreed to add another 500 troops and PM Brown recently proclaimed that European countries would contribute another 5000.
One of the leaders President Obama called today was Hamid Karzai. According to a spokesman of the Presidential Palace, the two leaders discussed the new strategy via video conference call for over an hour.
President Obama was planning to call Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari. Pakistan will be a large part of the new strategy.
In his speech tonight, Obama is expected to announce that Afghanistan is not an openended commitment and that the onus will be placed on Afghanistan's government for taking over the security of the country.
Obama is stuck between a rock and a hard place in this endeavour. During the campaign he maintained that the US had taken the eye of the ball by invading Iraq and that Afghanistan was the just war. On the other hand the American public is losing it,s patience with the war, particularly Obama's left contingency.
Chances are, regardless what his final decision is tonight, he will be criticized by both the right and the left.
Michael Moore has already written an open letter, telling Obama he will be known as the war president if he goes ahead with this surge. How will Obama handle it?
The military objective, Brown said, is "to create the space for an effective political strategy to work, weakening the Taliban by strengthening Afghanistan itself." Over the next year, he said, the Afghan army will be expanded from 90,000 to 134,000 troops, with 10,000 of them going to Helmand province, where U.S. Marines and British forces have focused their fight against the Taliban. Further increases are envisioned for later.
Allied governments have pressed Karzai to remove warlords and cronies from senior government positions. Over the next nine months, Brown said, the Afghan president "will be expected to implement . . . far-reaching reforms to ensure that, from now on, all 400 provinces and districts have a governor appointed on merit, free from corruption, with clearly defined roles, skills and resources."
Although White House Staff has been tight-lipped about what may have been discussed between Presidents Obama and Karzai, UK Prime Minister Brown has dropped a few hints on the new strategy.
Brown stated that the Afghan National Army would be grown from 90,000 to 134,000 over the next year. Karzai has also been told to appoint governors of Provinces and district of merit and rid them of corruption.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai talked for an hour on Tuesday to discuss the new U.S. direction on Afghanistan that will be publicly unveiled later in the day.
A spokesman at the Afghan presidential palace said Obama and Karzai spoke via video conference call.
In a speech to be delivered at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y, Obama is expected to announce he will be sending another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.
The escalation over the course of the next year will put U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan at 100,000, at an annual cost of about $75 billion US.