Washington: With the July 2011 timeline
for an Afghan troop withdrawal triggering much debate, the
White House has made it clear that the given period will only
mark the beginning of transition in Afghanistan and the pace
of recoil will depend on the ground conditions.
US President Barack Obama had last year set a July
2011 timeline to begin withdrawal from the war-torn country
and the decision has caused a lot of debate, with the
opponents saying that an announcement could make things
difficult by emboldening the Taliban and weakening US allies
in the country.
"What we`ve said is that marks a period of transition
that conditions on ground will determine the slope of that
withdrawal," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told
reporters at his daily press briefing yesterday.
"It means we begin the transition out of Afghanistan,"
he said when asked if the July 2011 timeline means that there
is going to be a withdrawal no matter what.
He pointed out that the US was more or less "on the
verge" of marking a considerable drawdown in Iraq -- a
prospect that wan unthinkable two years back.
"It has because of the hard work to build up the Iraqi
security forces and to sustain that involvement," he said.
He said President Obama was very clear about what July
2011 means and what it starts.
Noting that the September 11, 2001, attacks originated
from that area, Gibbs said: "We know the extremist elements
that exist. We know what their intentions are as it relates to
the Afghan government.
"And we know the potential for the creation of a
terrorist safe haven if their intentions to the Afghan
government were to come true," he said.
Gibbs claimed that the situation in Afghanistan is
better than earlier and stated that Obama has on a number of
occasions laid out how what he is doing in Afghanistan is in
the US` national security interests.
"We are constantly evaluating the resources that we`ve
added. As you know, there will be a White House-led review in
December on where we are on the strategy," he said.
"I don`t think anybody... that is aware of the
decisions that we`ve had to make, that anybody that thought
this was going to be quick, anybody that thought this wasn`t
going to be a tough slog each and every bit of the way and I
think it`s proved to be that," Gibbs said.