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Kabul and Washington Decide Future Partnership

President Kairzai and President Obama

President Hamid Karzai left for Washington on Monday on a three-day official visit. Karzai and US president Barack Obama will discuss the future military presence of United States in Afghanistan and the course of partnership between the two countries.

According to officials, the two leaders will discuss issues such as security transition, peace process, economic cooperation and political transition with security agreement and equipping Afghan military at the top of the agenda. President Karzai’s visit to Washington and his discussions with US president Barack Obama is of critical importance for the future of Afghanistan and future partnership between Kabul and Washington.

Obviously, despite all progress that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) has made so far, they will remain dependant to assistance from the US and other international allies when the US-NATO forces leave here in 2014. We have to learn lessons from Iraq’s experience. For Iraq, complete withdrawal of US forces proved substantially harmful and somehow destabilizing, despite that Iraq has much stronger economy and capable security institutions.

Afghanistan is yet to have a capable air-force and its military lacks proper and modern weaponry, while the insurgency is raging across the country. The peace efforts might be a dead-end campaign and the ANSF will surely be battling in a long-lasting war of attrition. Though there is no chance for the Taliban to resurge and forcefully come back under any circumstances, but threats of long-lasting insurgency and instability will remain potential.

Thus, both Kabul and Washington need to cut a historic deal for a strong presence of the US and NATO in post-2014 Afghanistan. US President Barack Obama will soon make decision on choices about the level of the country’s residual troops in post-2014 Afghanistan as well as how fast to withdraw American combat troops from the country. The Americans, including the US Senate and House of Representatives, the White House and ordinary Americans remain deeply hesitant over strong presence of the country in Afghanistan after completion of withdrawal in 2014.

Obama is considering recommendations on keeping a number of US forces in Afghanistan after foreign troop’s leaves the country in 2014. Gen. John Allen, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, has submitted his recommendations for the Pentagon and White House which specifically suggests 6,000 up to 20,000 troops. But some reports say that Obama may prefer to decide on much lower number probably between 3,000 to 9,000 troops.

This would be an alarmingly weak presence of the United States in Afghanistan’s future and substantially risky for stability of the country. It seems that the US and Afghan presidents are to choose whether to secure a strong future partnership between the two countries or endanger the whole mission of stabilizing Afghanistan.

In recent years, the government of Afghanistan has signed multiple strategic partnership pacts with world and regional powers and it has relatively forged friendly relations with some neighbor countries. It is something that should be praised and the government of Afghanistan should be credited for that. But more importantly, now the government of Afghanistan needs to guarantee a strong partnership with the United States particularly in extension of its military presence, security cooperation and equipping Afghan national forces.

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