Afghanistan: 5 areas of concern after the US leaves
Although the end of the war in Afghanistan is in sight, not everyone is looking forward to it. The total withdrawal of US and NATO forces by 2014 will have profound, direct effects on the country's security, economy, and society. Here are five areas that are likely to see an impact.
Security and the Taliban
The most immediate concern over the US's withdrawal from Afghanistan is how it will affect Afghan security. The Taliban and other Afghan militants still launch regular attacks against Western forces, and the Afghan military and police forces that NATO has been training are not yet prepared to take on responsibility for their own security.
The Afghan government is already worried about accelerated US plans, announced in February, to end combat operations a year before its anticipated 2014 withdrawal. "A decision to push this a year earlier throws out the whole transition plan. The transition has been planned against a timetable and this makes us rush all our preparations," a senior Afghan security official told the Monitor soon after the announcement. "If the Americans withdraw from combat, it will certainly have an effect on our readiness and training, and on equipping the police force."
And Afghan forces depend heavily on Western money as well. If the financial support dries up, warns Mahmood Khan, a member of parliament from Kandahar Province, "there will not be enough troops to secure the country, especially the rural areas."
Such concerns are a major factor in why the US has been attempting peace negotiations with the Taliban. But the talks remain a long shot at best, in part because the US timetable for departure is already public, lessening the Taliban's incentive to negotiate.