Washington- Even as the US President Barack Obama announced complete withdrawal of his troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, senior administration officials have conceded that there continues to be threats emanating from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“The threat from al Qaeda's core leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been significantly addressed through the efforts to dismantle the Al Qaida leadership in that part of the world. That does not mean that there are no traces of Al Qaida. Of course, there continues to be threats emanating from Afghanistan and Pakistan,” a senior Administration official said. “But we do believe that we have struck significant blows against Al Qaida's leadership,” said the official, whose remarks came as the US President announced that the USA would have 9,800 troops in Afghanistan at the beginning of 2015 and complete withdrawn by the end of 2016.
The official, however, clarified that the USA would continue to engage in counter-terrorism operations. “However, we do want to maintain a counter-terrorism capability precisely because we don't want Al Qaida to regenerate. We don't want there to be significantly enhanced space for them to operate. That means we're going to continue our counter-terrorism operations in the region,” the official said.
It also means that we're going to train Afghan National Security Forces to help us in mitigating that threat, the senior administration official told reporters. On Afghanistan, the official said the USA believes that the long-term solution towards Afghan security was not US forces. “It is Afghan forces; and that we've trained and equipped an Afghan National Security Force that needs to be responsible for securing their country; that this has never been a situation where the United States was signing on to provide security in Afghanistan indefinitely. We have always been very clear that this was a year of transition that our combat mission would come to an end,” he said. “Ultimately, we believe and have confidence that the Afghan National Security Forces can be in the lead and can mitigate that violence and can provide for that security.” he also added. It doesn't mean it will be perfect security, but it does mean that the Afghan National Security Forces, after years of training and assistance, are prepared to step forward, he added. “So we will continue to address that Al Qaida threat through our counter-terrorism efforts and through our partnership with the Afghans. With respect to the Taliban, I think that is a challenge that the Afghan National Security Forces will continue to take on.," he concluded.