Clinton in Kabul: Afghanistan as a ‘major non-NATO ally’.
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The new US designation, Clinton said, "will open the door to Afghanistan's military to have a greater capability and a broader kind of relationship with the United States and especially the United States military".
The new US decision, Clinton said, "should make clear to the Taliban that they cannot wait us out," in Afghanistan. "They can renounce international terrorism and commit to an Afghan peace process, or they will face the increasingly capable Afghan national security forces, backed by the United States."
The latest US move follows the signing of a strategic partnership agreement by Washington and Kabul in May. The two sides will also shortly begin negotiations on the terms and conditions under which a residual U.S. military force will stay behind in Afghanistan.
The speculation is that 15,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops might stay on to train and support the Afghan armed forces and to conduct counter-terror operations against the terror sanctuaries in Pakistan.
At the NATO summit in Chicago at the end of May, the Obama Administration sought to rally international financial support for the maintenance of the Afghan armed forces. The assessment is that Kabul will need a little over $ 4 billion every year for this purpose.
At the Tokyo conference of international donors to Afghanistan next week, Clinton will try and mobilise commitments worth $ 6 billion a year in economic assistance to Kabul.
The international record of developed nations keeping their financial commitments of this sort is not too good. Given growing Western weariness about the war in Afghanistan and the increasing donor fatigue, a measure of doubt abut the US strategy in Afghanistan is not out of place.
Besides holding the feet of its allies to the fire, Washington needs to persuade the Pakistan army to change its current policy of destabiling Afghanistan and compel the Taliban to the negotiating table. But few would want to bet that Washington will succeed on all three fronts.