Robert Marquand of the Christian Science Monitor reports that while discussions about aid were a part of the discussion at the London conference, “clear signals were also delivered that the U.S. and its NATO allies are crafting a departure strategy and determined to transfer security responsibility to Kabul within five years.”
“The back story and underlying meaning of the Jan. 28 conference appears to be a slow but inexorably developing script of transition, handoff, and departure. The conference communique and language of UN, NATO, US, and UK diplomats here was rife with “timelines” and “deadlines,” and laden with allusions of exit,” Marquand writes.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, coalition troops are preparing for an anti-Taliban offensive, reports Lionel Barber of the Financial Times. Barber writes that Camp Bastion – a British military base in Afghanistan – is “heaving with activity.”
“Hercules C-17 heavy transport aircraft roar in and out, while Chinook, Merlin and Puma helicopters kick up clouds of red dust. A deserted airstrip three years ago, Camp Bastion, in the violent Afghan province of Helmand, is today handling more cargo than London’s Gatwick airport and more traffic than Luton,” Barber writes.
“If we fight in [Helmand Province] this summer, we will give the Taliban a hell of a pasting,” he quotes one British official as saying.
Some other news reports and perspectives:
- Dexter Filkins (New York Times): “Afghan tribe, vowing to fight Taliban, to get U.S. aid in return”
- Zalmay Khalilzad (Financial Times): “How to win the war in Afghanistan”
- Steve Coll (New Yorker): “House testimony: The paradoxes of al Qaeda”
- Rafia Zakaria (Dawn): “Drones and the law”