Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Afghan Crisis Will Cast a Shadow for Many Years

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Afghan Crisis Will Cast a Shadow for Many Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Fox

PRESIDENT OBAMA can hardly be accused of exaggeration in his warning of "hard days ahead" as the leading Nato powers wrestle with the problems of withdrawing their forces from Afghanistan.

This has become the dominant topic at the Nato summit in Chicago and the future of the alliance hangs on how the next phase of the Afghan operation is handled.

France's new president Francois Hollande has said his troops will leave by the end of this year -- two years ahead of the original deadline laid down by Nato at Lisbon two years ago.

President Obama's team is now hinting that US forces will stop major combat operations next summer, when the Afghan forces will take over responsibility for their nation's security.

UK forces are expected to do the same, and their presence is now expected to reduce sharply next year.

For all the official gloss and spin, it is a huge gamble. It is true that advances have been made in getting young Afghans back to school and stabilising notorious troublespots such as central Helmand. …

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