May 28 - While the ISAF commander applauds President Obama's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, it's a mixed view on the streets of Kabul. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 is good news for Afghanistan, according to General Joseph Dunford, commander of the International security assistance forces. Most of the 32,000 troops still serving in Afghanistan now will leave by the end of the year with a force of close to 10,000 staying through 2016. (SOUNDBITE) (English) INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE FORCES (ISAF) COMMANDER GENERAL JOSEPH DUNFORD SAYING: "I believe that decision was good news for the Afghan people, it eliminates the uncertainty about the future here in Afghanistan, in the region and within the coalition. It also sends a message to those who said that Afghanistan would be abandoned at the end of the year and that simply isn't true." But on the streets of Kabul not everyone agrees. (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) UNIVERSITY STUDENT MOHARAM ALI SAYING: "If President Obama is serious about his decision then he is playing with Afghanistan's fate. Everyone knows that our businessmen are taking out their investments from Afghanistan because of the pullout of foreign troops and the uncertain fate of election. I believe after this decision Afghanistan's economy will collapse." Others say foreign troops cannot leave soon enough. (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) RESIDENT OF KABUL HAFIZULLAH LASHKARI SAYING: "We have our own Afghan security forces to defend our country and its territory. The presence of Americans in Afghanistan only increases misery and conflict." Any U.S. military presence beyond 2014 is contingent on the Afghan government signing a bilateral security agreement with the United States.