WHO: Stephen Tankel, assistant professor in American University’s School of Public Affairs and a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment in the South Asia program, focuses his research on terrorism, insurgency, and security affairs in South Asia—especially Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tankel is among the leading authorities on Pakistani militancy and is frequently asked to brief government officials, analysts, and practitioners on security issues related to South Asia. He has written extensively on these issues including in his recent book, Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba, which examines that group’s ideological, strategic, and operational evolution since the 1980s within the context of developments in Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan.
WHAT: Available to analyze and discuss President Obama’s Afghanistan speech and state of affairs in Afghanistan
WHEN: May 2 – ongoing
WHERE: In-studio, via telephone, at American University
President Obama’s address to the American people from Afghanistan after signing the Strategic Partnership Agreement with President Karzai solidified U.S. intentions in the region for the next decade. American University’s Stephen Tankel, an expert on Afghanistan and terrorism made the following analysis following President Obama’s speech:
“The timing of the speech is obviously notable and early on the President zeroed in on the initial objective
of the mission in Afghanistan: defeating al-Qaeda and denying it safe haven there.”
“With al-Qaeda’s presence in the region seriously degraded, largely owing to drone strikes in Pakistan, the President was able to stress that the United States is close to achieving this goal.”
On the United States Drawdown Expected by 2014
“The President’s speech was intended for multiple audiences: Americans, Afghans, NATO allies, Pakistan and, of course, the Taliban. While he was clear about the drawdown at a time when many Americans have grown weary of the war, his speech also included messaging that made clear some U.S. forces will remain in Afghanistan post-2014. Hence the assurance to the Afghans that ‘as you stand up, you will not stand alone.’”
“While the U.S. is drawing down significantly and turning over operations to the Afghans, it’s a mistake to say the war is ending. The war will continue beyond 2014 for the Afghans as well as for those U.S. service men and women who comprise the residual force that remains in country.”
“The size of a residual force has yet to be announced, but it’s a safe bet that members of the U.S. special operations community will be fighting in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future.”
“The Strategic Partnership Agreement allows U.S. forces access to Afghan facilities from which they can take direct action against al-Qaeda and its affiliates. Future bilateral agreements can be expected to include basing rights at these facilities so that those U.S. forces still in Afghanistan post-2014 can continue these operations as necessary.”
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