Date Set for NATO Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan
In response to Western calls for the Afghan government to meet the challenges facing the country, President Hamid Karzai set 2015 as the date he wants to see Afghan security forces replace NATO forces in his country. This comes on the heels of waning Western support for the war and a significant withdrawal scheduled for 2011.
Thursday, newly elected Afghan President Karzai began his second term as president with a speech pledging to prosecute corruption, and calling for the Afghan military to take over internal security responsibilities by 2015. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Foreign Secretary David Millband praised the speech as a demonstration that President Karzai was ready to meet the challenges facing his country.
This can be seen as an ongoing conversation between Western diplomats and Karzia’s government, in which the former has made specific demands upon the latter to gain control of the country in preparation for an ultimate end to the NATO mission in Afghanistan, which President Obama has said is not “open-ended.” While there is continuing debate in the Obama administration over the short-term increase in U.S. troops, it appears that support for the war in Afghanistan is waning in Great Britain just as preparations are being made for a Canadian withdrawal in 2011.