アフガン混迷 性急な国際部隊撤収は危険だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 21, 2012)
Hasty troop withdrawal from Afghanistan risky
アフガン混迷 性急な国際部隊撤収は危険だ(3月20日付・読売社説)

The relationship of trust built up steadily by the United States and Europe with Afghanistan could break down at a moment's notice through thoughtless actions or unexpected incidents.

Many lives have been lost in retaliatory actions in Afghanistan, making the country's security situation more uncertain. This is the reality of Afghanistan as a battlefield.

The Afghan situation has deteriorated since the turn of the year.

In January, a video clip of four U.S. marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters was hosted on a website.

An angry Afghan soldier killed four French soldiers belonging to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Immediately after this, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said French troops would complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of 2013, one year earlier than scheduled.

In February, it was revealed that Korans were among trash burned by ISAF members at a U.S. base. A furious Afghan killed two U.S. officers, who served as advisers to the Afghan Interior Ministry. All advisers to Afghan ministries were withdrawn from the ministries immediately.


Distrust increasing

The series of incidents has increased distrust between Afghanistan and the United States and Europe. The schism yawned even wider on March 11 when civilians were massacred in the southern province of Kandahar.

There is no excuse for a U.S. staff sergeant to indiscriminately kill 16 civilians, including nine children. The U.S. government must investigate the case thoroughly in the hope of regaining Afghanistan's trust.

Following the massacre, the Taliban called off behind-the-scenes peace talks with Washington. This development is a cause for concern.

U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

To realize a "responsible withdrawal," the Obama administration wants to promote peace and political reconciliation talks with the Taliban, which has its roots in the south of the country, while fostering and strengthening Afghanistan's security forces so the country can deal with its own public security.


Bring Taliban back to talks

New ideas are needed to bring the Taliban back to the negotiating table.

A U.S. public opinion survey shows a majority of Americans want the troop withdrawal advanced because of the intensification of anti-U.S. sentiment and the increase in the number of U.S. soldiers killed and injured in Afghanistan.

But if the United States impulsively pulls out its troops, it only will lead to the Taliban stepping up its military offensive to regain power. The international community must unite to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a hotbed for terrorism once again.

Due to the series of incidents by U.S. troops, the Afghan situation is on the brink of a serious crisis. To stop the Afghan security situation from deteriorating, Washington must redouble its military and diplomatic efforts.

In July, Japan will host an international conference on assistance to Afghanistan, at which Afghan President Hamid Karzai will be invited to attend as a guest. Tokyo must step up its indirect and nonmilitary support to help stabilize the Afghan situation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 20, 2012)
(2012年3月20日01時25分 読売新聞)

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