The Obama administration is reviewing its strategy for the war in Afghanistan with an eye on the approaching deadline of July 2011 for the US forces to start transitioning responsibility to the local forces.
The review will be focusing on two aspects of the Obama administration’s Af-Pak policy: if it’s on the correct path and if it’s happening at the correct pace, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.
The review started two week ago, the official said, with the first phase focusing on “data collection”.
The review will factor in views of international stakeholders in the region, including India. President Obama’s discussions with Indian leaders on his recent visit there will be added to the review, the official said.
Indian concerns are basically this: if the US leaves Afghanistan now, it will slip back into the chaos that turned into a haven for terrorists and insurgents, and, more worrying perhaps, would be the return of their Pakistani handlers.
The US has made clear now it will never abandon Afghanistan again. “I’ve also made it clear that America’s commitment to the Afghan people will endure. The US will not abandon the people of Afghanistan — or the region — to violent extremists who threaten us all,” Obama said in India.
Meanwhile the transition will begin in July 2011, with the total withdrawal of combatant troops happening possibly in 2014, a timeline suggested by Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai.
It’s likely to be firmed up at the NATO summit in Lisbon on November 20. The NATO discussions will also be added to the review.