Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Obama orders withdrawal of 33,000 US troops from Afghanistan by the end of September 2012

U.S President Barack Obama has announced the withdrawal of 10,000 US troops from Afghanistan this year and another 23,000 by the end of September 2012.

Obama says "it is the beginning, but not the end, of our effort to wind down this war".

He said: "Al-Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11... We have taken out more than half of al-Qaeda's leadership. We have put al-Qaeda on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done."

At least 68,000 US troops will remain in Afghanistan.

All US combat troops are scheduled to leave by 2013, provided that Afghan forces are ready to take over security.

Although the size of the Afghan army, police and other security forces has grown to 290,000, according to NATO, their readiness to step up and replace U.S. forces is a question.

Obama said the US was starting the withdrawal "from a position of strength"

He wants to focus more on growth of U.S instead of involving in other countries. He said: "We will not try to make Afghanistan a perfect place. We will not police its streets or patrol its mountains indefinitely. That is the responsibility of the Afghan government." "Six thousand Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and $1 trillion has been spent. It was time to focus on nation-building at home.

Watch below the video of Obama addressing "way forward in Afghanistan" from White House.

Obama said al-Qaeda has been dramatically weakened, particularly by the May 1 raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Documents found in bin Laden's compound, Obama said, showed the extent of the damage done to al-Qaeda's operations.

Obama rejected the advice of Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of troops in Afghanistan. He urged that fewer troops be withdrawn.

Reaction to the Obama's drawdown announcement was mixed: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said continuing to degrade al-Qaeda must "take priority over any calendar dates"; House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California called the drawdown too slow and said she would "continue to press for a better outcome." [Source USToday]

Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he supports Obama's decision.

The Taliban said the insurgency would continue until all foreign forces left. Taliban's Statement says that Obama's announcement was "symbolic".

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan once again wants to make it clear that the solution for the Afghan crisis lies in the full withdrawal of all foreign troops immediately and this does not happen, our armed struggle will increase from day to day," the Taliban statement said. [Source BBC]

The Afghan defence ministry said that it was ready to take responsibility for fighting the Taliban and securing the country.

"We appreciate the efforts and sacrifices made by the foreign forces in Afghanistan, but at the same time we congratulate them for returning back to their homelands after a long period of war," a spokesman said.

See below the photo of Soldiers watching a rebroadcast of Barack Obama's speech on proposed troop withdrawal at Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Photo Source: Asssociated Press. Click on the image to see the enlarged Image.

Following  Obama’s announcement of a withdrawal of 33,000 US troops in Afghanistan, French President Nicolas Sarkozy released a statement saying that France would also begin a “gradual withdrawal” of its force. France currently has 4,000 troops in Afghanistan. 62 French soldiers have died in the mission since the end of 2001

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