Afghan View of US troop withdrawal

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Lisa Mullins: I'm Lisa Mullins and this is The World. Tonight President Barack Obama unveils his plan for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. The president has set a time table that reverses the troop surge that he ordered in 2009. That could mean the withdrawal of some 30,000 American troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year. Whatever the details, the plan is unlikely to make everybody happy, in Washington or in Kabul. Abaceen Nasimi is a long time resident of Kabul, he was born and raised in the Afghan capital, he says there is a range of opinions there about a U.S. troop draw down.

Abaceen Nasimi: What I hear from my friends and what I hear from the people that I talk to here is that the Afghan government, at this moment, is not able even to hold for a month without the American support. They think that the Americans are leaving prematurely, because the Afghans were expecting the Americans to help them set up a government hat is competent; a government that could deliver services to its citizens. But let's not forget that many people, especially in the south, and especially where the conflict is concentrated that they're are going to be happy because when American troops leaves their area ,there will be less night raids, there will be less fighting in general. So, it depends on who you are talking to.

Mullins: When you talk about people in the rural areas, let's talk about Helmand especially, Helmand province which has been one of the hotbeds of the insurgency and the fighting and this is a place where you have gone back and forth several times since 2007, and I wonder the changes that you have seen in the province that has been so direly affected and also whether or not the people, I mean, you say they'll be happy to get rid of some of the night raids, but I wonder if the fighting dwindles, if that means the Taliban will be on the ascent and how people there feel about that.

Nasimi: When American forces came in then the Taliban forces followed them so there is fight because there's American forces in some areas. But in general, they have dramatically changed the scene, I mean security wise there were less Taliban activity and there were more government control there in those ares. But let's not forget that paired in with that there were more civilian casualties in that.

Mullins: What are the differences though? I mean what have you seen, say from about 2007 until now?

Nasimi: Physically, when I was traveling to Helmand in 2007 the airport was a mere, unpaved, runway but now we have a standard runway in Helmand and the government stations now own some nice buildings. I mean there have been millions of dollars spent in Helmand with the arrival of the American forces. But let's not forget that there were have been a lot of civilian casualties because of the night raids and also the special forces operations that was one of the main factors that the people started to hate Americans as invaders and as, uh, they were taking them as invaders.

Mullins: So, clearly they want security but you're saying that the people of Helmand are upset about civilian casualties, about night raids, but do those things, though, loom larger in their minds and shape their opinions more than for instance having an airport, having a paved runway at the airport, having an infrastructure and having forces that will attempt to beat back the Taliban.

Nasimi: Yes, of course, I think human losses is something that we cannot compensate with an airport, or an airstrip, or some building or some infrastructure. People have lost their brothers, their sisters, their children and that was one of the main factors that widened this gap between the American forces and the civilians down there in Helmand, but nonetheless, those who enjoy the infrastructure, the roads, these buildings, were also thinking positive of the American forces.

Mullins: Abaceen. Thank you for speaking to this.

Nasimi: You're welcome.

Mullins: That's Kabul resident Abaceen Nasimi.