In prepared testimony to Congress, General David Petraeus today offered what diplomats call a “cautiously optimistic” assessment of the US “surge” in Afghanistan.
“The momentum achieved by the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2005 has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in a number of important areas,” said Petraeus. “However, while the security progress achieved over the past year is significant, it is also fragile and reversible.”
Petraeus acknowledged that the Taliban would likely launch a spring offensive to regain lost ground and that such an offensive would present a significant challenge to US and NATO forces. He also expressed acute concern about rampant corruption in the Afghan government and the slow development of Afghan security forces. Without credible governance and security, a US/NATO draw-down of forces would almost certainly lead to a Taliban resurgence.
Nevertheless, Gen. Petraeus expressed confidence that a US troop withdrawal could commence on the timetable outlined by President Obama last year.
In related testimony, Gen. Petraeus addressed Iranian activities in the region:
The activities and policies of the Iranian regime constitute the major state-level threats to regional stability. Despite repeated International Atomic Energy Agency findings of Iranian violations of non-proliferation obligations, five United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and extensive diplomatic efforts through the P5+1, the Iranian regime is assessed by many to be continuing its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, which would destabilize the region and likely spur a regional arms race. The Iranian regime employs surrogates and violent proxies to weaken competitor states, obstruct the Middle East Peace Process, and expand its regional influence. In particular, Iran uses proxy groups to train and equip militants in direct conflict with U.S. forces operating in the region, to frustrate efforts to stabilise Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza, and to interfere with the domestic politics in each. In the past, Syria has facilitated the Iranian regime’s reach into the Levant and the Arab world by serving as the key link in an Iran-Syria-Hizballah-Hamas alliance.
You can read General Petraeus’ full statement here.
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