AP: NATO Chief Says Afghan Forces Can Cope Alone
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance has helped provide security in Afghanistan for almost two decades, but the Afghan government and the Afghan forces are strong enough to stand on their own feet in absence of international troops’ support.
The US and coalition forces started their withdrawal on May 1. So far, nearly one-quarter of the withdrawal has been completed, according to the Pentagon.
“I think that the Afghans, they also realize that we have been there now for 20 years and we have invested heavily in blood and treasure in Afghanistan,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“Afghanistan has come a long way, both when it comes to building strong, capable security forces, but also when it comes to social and economic progress. At some stage, it has to be the Afghans that take full responsibility for peace and stability in their own country,” Stoltenberg said in the interview.
The announcement of the withdrawal has been followed by concerns about the country’s political future. But there have been some assurances by Afghan leaders about the management of the situation with their main focus on unity among the people.
He said that NATO allies will continue to support Afghanistan through civilian experts who will help to advise government ministries, by funding the security forces and with support for slow-moving peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban.
Stoltenberg, quoted by AP, said that NATO is also “looking into the possibility of providing some training out of country for the Afghan security forces, but no final decision has been taken.”
Violence has remained high in the country despite a three-day ceasefire from May 13 to May 15. The Defense Ministry during this week reported conflicts in at least over 12 provinces on a daily basis.
The situation in Laghman and Baghlan in the east and north of Afghanistan has been tense over the last two weeks following Taliban attacks on Afghan forces outposts on multiple fronts.
But in the political arena, efforts are underway to former a state council that would mainly focus on decision-making issues and consultations on the ongoing peace efforts in the country.
The State Minister on Peace Affairs on Thursday said that most of the nation’s political leaders are ready to become members of the council and to help the government in the post-withdrawal scenario.