What Afghans think about President Obama's troop drawdown
Many Afghans have mixed feelings about tonight's announcement from President Obama that the US will begin drawing down the levels of troops in Afghanistan.
(Page 2 of 2)
At the Gulbahar Center, a Western-style shopping mall in downtown Kabul, Zabiullah Shadman has been closely following the news about the pending US drawdown. He’s been disappointed by the inability of foreign forces to bring security and worries that if they leave now civil war may break out again. Already, business has been slow at his dress shop because many people fear the mall is a likely target for an attack.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
If it gets any worse, he adds, “people with money will just take their money and leave.” He says he is even considering fleeing to a Western country if the situation gets any worse.
Although Fakhria Latifi, who works on a USAID-funded project, would like foreign forces to leave her country, she says they must not do so until they’ve created a situation that can provide lasting stability. Otherwise, she worries that the Taliban or other extremist groups could regain control of the country.
“My main concern is that if the foreigners go and the Taliban come back, how will it affect women? They will not have access to schooling and jobs,” she says, adding that 2020 would be a better date for the final withdrawal rather than 2014. “My other concern is how long will we depend on the foreigners.”
Related stories US troops confident of Afghan war counterinsurgency strategy
Still, a number of Afghans doubt that the US is in any hurry to leave, and this frustrates them. The debate about whether the US will keep permanent bases here has long been part of the heated discourse among Afghans.
In Kandahar, which has been at the center of fighting throughout much of the war but has seen recent improvements in security, tribal elder Haji Faisal Mohammed sees the initial drawdown as a positive step toward addressing Afghan fears that the US wants to be a permanent occupying force.
“If America starts to withdraw their forces it will be a big blow to enemies of Afghanistan because it will show that America does not want to occupy Afghanistan,” he says. Still he adds, “I don’t think that America will be in such a hurry to leave. I think America just wants to start implementing [its] promises.”
Among some Afghans, there is also an awareness of America’s mounting domestic pressures to end the war. Given the economic drain and steadily rising death toll, Mangal Sherzad, a law professor at Nangarhar University in Jalalabad says it’s unlikely the US can stay in Afghanistan much longer.
“Even if they don’t want to take their forces out of Afghanistan, they must do it,” he says. “America has realized that they cannot win by just fighting and from the other side Obama has to fulfill the promises he made to his nation to bring the troops out of Afghanistan.”