We are weary of war, say US senators

United States President Barack Obama’s decision to bring troops home from Afghanistan faster than the military recommended could jeopardise the next major push of the war, to unseat insurgents in the east, US senator John McCain said on Sunday.

McCain and fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham also said they he were concerned about Pakistani ties with insurgents fighting the Afghan government and its Nato-led allies.

Obama announced a plan in late June to begin withdrawing 10 000 troops from Afghanistan by year’s end, followed by about 23 000 more by the end of next summer. The military distanced themselves from the timetable, telling Congress they had sought a slower, less risky drawdown.

“My major concern … is the ability to move from the southern part of this country over to RC [regional command] East, and complete the job there,” McCain told a news conference during a visit to the Afghan capital.

Extra US troops ordered into Afghanistan by Obama in 2009 have mostly been fighting in the Taliban’s southern heartland, where they have made some security gains, but the situation in the east of the country bordering Pakistan has deteriorated.


Insurgents tend to return to safe-havens in Pakistan in the winter, returning when they have cover from foliage and the weather is warmer for a spring and summer “fighting season”.

Military leaders have focused on the south this year, but MaCain said they expected to shift attention to the east for next year’s fighting season and might be pressed for troops.

“I believe that the planned drawdown is an unnecessary risk, and that is why there is no military leader that recommended it,” McCain said.

Pakistan problems
McCain said the role of ties between Afghan insurgents and Pakistan’s main intelligence agency (ISI) needed to be acknowledged. Many Afghan insurgent groups find safe haven across the border, including the dangerous Haqqani network.

“We have to deal with Pakistan on a basis of realism, that there are connections between the ISI and the Haqqani network and the Taliban,” he said.

Graham called for a stronger stance from Islamabad.

“Until Pakistan begins to help its going to be very difficult,” he said, speaking on the day that Afghan intelligence reported that insurgents had bought a suicide bomber from Pakistani militants.

“Our job as members of the Senate is to tell the Pakistani military ‘you need to chose who you want your friends to be and who you want your enemies to be’. We want to be your friends.”

They were travelling with independent Senator Joe Lieberman, who said the group would warn Afghan President Hamid Karzai that he needed to tackle corruption and a long-running dispute over parliamentary elections, to hold onto U.S. support.

“One of the things we want to say to President Karzai when we meet him tonight is that back home in Congress there is a war weariness and a kind of fiscal stress,” Lieberman said.

“President Karzai can make our job easier or harder — to sustain support for the people of Afghanistan — by what he says and does.” – Reuters

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

Reinstated Ingonyama Trust managers hit with retrenchment notices

The effect of Covid-19 and the land reform department’s freeze of R23-million because the ITB didn’t comply with budget submissions are cited as some of the reasons for the staff cuts

Battle over R6bn workers’ retirement fund

Allegations from both sides tumble out in court papers

Nigeria’s anti-corruption boss arrested for corruption

Ibrahim Magu’s arrest by the secret police was a surprise — but also not surprising

Eskom refers employees suspected of contracts graft for criminal investigations

The struggling power utility has updated Parliament on investigations into contracts where more than R4-billion was lost in overpayments
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday