Afghanistan Wants Post-2014 Troops to Battle the Taliban, not al Qaeda

Afghan National Army soldiers marching in a district in Kandahar

Allauddin Khan/AP

AA Font size + Print

Afghan National Army soldiers marching in a district in Kandahar

The Afghan Foreign Minister says the core of al Qaeda has been defeated in Afghanistan, but the country still needs U.S. troops to help battle the Taliban. By Stephanie Gaskell

U.S. troops went to Afghanistan to battle al Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden in retaliation for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Now, 12 years later, will they stay to battle the Taliban?

During his speech at the United Nations on Tuesday, President Obama said the core of al Qaeda – the terror group that U.S. and NATO troops have been battling for more than a decade – has been dismantled. Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul said he agrees with that assessment, but his country still needs help battling the Taliban.

“[The] Taliban is not powerful enough in Afghanistan, but they continue to disturb our security,” Rassoui told CNN’s Situation Room on Thursday. “One thing that we’re focusing on now is the peace process to convince those in Taliban to come to the peace process, join Afghanistan and stop fighting.” 

On Monday, a Taliban ambush on a border post in southern Afghanistan killed 11 police officers. And earlier this month, Taliban militants used car bombs to attack a U.S. consulate in western Afghanistan, killing two Afghans and wounding 17 other Afghans. 

The remaining 60,000 U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan are scheduled to leave by the end of 2014, but both sides are still trying to hammer out a deal to keep a small number behind to continue to train and advise the Afghan army and police. At issue is whether those troops would be immune from prosecution under Afghan law while they remain in the country – the same issue that derailed an agreement to leave U.S. troops behind in Iraq.

“The transition of the security has been fairly finished. The third phase has started. We need not a sudden disruption of the security. By the time our security forces are fighting and replacing the NATO forces, we need their training and equipping the Afghan security force,” Rassoui said. “We’re in discussions with United States on a security agreement to which a number, a limited number of United States forces and also other NATO forces would stay in Afghanistan.” 

Rassoui said he believes that about 10,000 U.S. and NATO troops would stay past 2014, about the same number that top U.S. generals have been floating. But the two sides have yet to be able to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement that sets out immunity and other conditions. U.S. officials ideally would like that agreement in place before next spring’s presidential elections to replace Hamid Karzai. Rassoui is a top candidate to run for the nation’s highest office, but he said he hasn’t yet decided.

Still, as negotiations continue, Rassoui said Afghan-U.S. relations are “solid.”

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Top 5 Findings: Security of Internet of Things To Be Mission-Critical

    As federal agencies increasingly leverage these capabilities, government security stakeholders now must manage and secure a growing number of devices, including those being used remotely at the “edge” of networks in a variety of locations. With such security concerns in mind, Government Business Council undertook an indepth research study of federal government leaders in January 2017. Here are five of the key takeaways below which, taken together, paint a portrait of a government that is increasingly cognizant and concerned for the future security of IoT.

  • Coordinating Incident Response on Posts, Camps and Stations

    Effective incident response on posts, camps, and stations is an increasingly complex challenge. An effective response calls for seamless conversations between multiple stakeholders on the base and beyond its borders with civilian law enforcement and emergency services personnel. This whitepaper discusses what a modern dispatch solution looks like -- one that brings together diverse channels and media, simplifies the dispatch environment and addresses technical integration challenges to ensure next generation safety and response on Department of Defense posts, camps and stations.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.