Obama speech on Afghanistan leaves many Afghani’s “fearing for their lives”

June 27, 2011

Fotini Christia, in a “Letter from Kabul” for the journal Foreign Affairs yesterday, writes:

(M)ost striking for Afghans, Obama’s speech was not about “transition,” the euphemism for withdrawal the United States typically favors, but about abrupt disengagement, with no convincing commitment to seeing Afghanistan through to peace. The speech was clear on the plan to bring U.S. troops home but vague on the specifics of how to leave behind a stable Afghanistan, beyond asserting that the Afghan government would now have to take the lead. But Afghanistan’s weak government and embattled president do not inspire confidence. Afghans seem convinced that the country will relapse into all-out civil war after the United States withdraws. Many Afghans understandably fear for their lives. During a large international development agency’s recent meeting in Kabul, an Afghan employee asked “What is the plan for evacuating local staff when the United States withdraws?” Amid charts illustrating dwindling aid deliveries, she foresaw Kabul becoming another Saigon. An Afghan colleague of mine, who has worked for years on development projects with foreigners comes to work every day in his shalwar kameez (the baggy pants and long shirt that many South Asians wear) and changes into Western attire at the office. He drives a beat-up car and routinely moves his family to different rental apartments in Kabul. “If the Taliban comes back, and people know I worked for foreigners, I will be found hanging from a lamppost,” he said. The Taliban lynched Afghanistan’s last communist president, Mohammad Najibullah, that way in 1996.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: