Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, August 18th, 2017

NATO Chief Tells EU Alliance Needs to Stay in Afghanistan

NATO Chief Tells EU Alliance Needs to Stay in Afghanistan

KABUL - NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an address to the European Parliament that the alliance needs to stay in Afghanistan and help conventional Afghan forces in their campaign against terrorism.
“We have played a key role in Afghanistan for many many years. Our military presence in Afghanistan, is our biggest mission ever. And all NATO allies have participated, but also many non-NATO allies have participated, because they are partners they have participated in the recent support mission, and before that ISAF mission in Afghanistan. And many of the countries that are not members of NATO, but members of EU have been in Afghanistan,” said Stoltenberg.
Addressing the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday, Stoltenberg said the organization needs to make decisions on its in presence in Afghanistan in the coming years.
“We have ended our combat operations in Afghanistan, but we continue to train and assist and advise the Afghan forces to enable them to stabilize their own country, enable them to fight terrorism themselves. And I think that if there's one lesson we've learned, both from Afghanistan, but also in a different way, but at least the same lesson, we have learned from Bosnia-Herzegovena and from Kosovo, is that in the long-run it's much better if we are able to train the local forces to stabilize their own country, to fight terrorism themselves, instead of NATO deploying a big number of combat troops, and big combat operations.
“So building local capacity, training local forces is the key when it comes to NATO's contribution to fighting terrorism. We have to make decisions on our presence in Afghanistan in the coming years,” he said.
This comes just days after Stoltenberg told a German daily Die Welt that NATO is considering sending additional military personnel to Afghanistan and increasing the timeframe of the deployment in view of the “challenging security situation.”
Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, in the first address to his employees - in three months - U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered broad policy outlines on North Korea, Russia and the Middle East, as well as a guarded, vague explanation of the administration's plans to overhaul the organization. He also only vaguely touched on Afghanistan.
All he really said was: “How do we advance our interest in Afghanistan to a legitimate peace process is what we’re pursuing in Afghanistan, and then keeping this terrorism network (Daesh) confined as it wants to spread itself through North Africa and Central Africa. So a lot of work ahead of us, and many of you are directly engaged in it already; many more of you are going to become engaged in it, I think you can expect.”
Tillerson added: “The next kind of area of priority is our re-engagement with Russia. Obviously, they are part of the engagement in Syria, but we have other issues with Russia, as you all well know, in Europe, and the situation in Ukraine. As I know many of you heard from my trip to Moscow, characterized to President (Vladimir) Putin that the relationship between our two nations was the lowest it’s been since the Cold War. He did not disagree. He shrugged his shoulders and nodded in agreement. And I said it’s spiraling down, it’s getting worse. And my comment to him was you – we cannot have, the two greatest nuclear powers in the world cannot have this kind of relationship. We have to change it.”
Early last month however, Tillerson said at a NATO meeting in Brussels that NATO’s work in Afghanistan remains critical and that his country is committed to supporting the Afghan forces.
In what was seen as the first sign of support by U.S President Donald Trump’s administration in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan, Tillerson said: “The United States is committed to the Resolute Support Mission and to our support for Afghan forces.
“NATO’s Train, Advise, And Assist mission is essential to our shared goal of ensuring that Afghanistan develops the capability to contribute to regional stability and prevail over terrorist threats, including al-Qaeda and ISIS (Daesh),” he said.
He said the ongoing commitment of NATO Allies and partners to peace in Afghanistan, including to an eventual settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban, protects the Alliance’s interests, and, when successful, ensures that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists. (Tolonews)