UPDATE 3-FACTBOX-Reactions to US review of Afghanistan war

(Adds Kerry, Rasmussen, Skelton, Cameron spokesman, Exum,
Afghan lawmaker)

Dec 16 (BestGrowthStock)- A White House review of U.S. President
Barack Obama’s Afghanistan war strategy reported on Thursday
that U.S. and NATO forces are making headway against the
Taliban and al Qaeda but that serious challenges remain.

Here are some reactions to the White House review from
military leaders, policymakers and experts.

NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN

“Our strategy is sound and we have in place the necessary
resources to accomplish it. Now we have to consolidate those
gains and make them irreversible. This is a challenging task,
but we are determined to see it through.

“We are gradually creating the conditions to enable Afghan
forces to take lead for security across the country by the end
of 2014, with (foreign) forces moving into a supporting role.”

STATEMENT ISSUED BY BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON’S
PRESS OFFICE

“(The review) is consistent with the British government’s
assessment and strategy, and with the agreements made by the
international coalition and the Afghan government at the Lisbon
NATO Summit.

“We also agree that we must use our civilian and military
momentum to support a durable and favorable political
resolution of the conflict.

“Like President Obama, we see 2011 as the year in which we
have to make progress both lasting and irreversible.”

SENATOR JOHN KERRY, CHAIRMAN OF THE U.S. SENATE FOREIGN
RELATIONS COMMITTEE

“The administration review provides welcome evidence of
progress in key parts of Afghanistan … and underscores that
the president’s commitment to transferring authority to the
Afghans has created a useful sense of urgency.

“At the same time, the assessment reminds us of the fragile
nature of our progress, the challenges in other parts of
Afghanistan, and the persistent problem of sanctuaries across
the border in Pakistan.

“We need to remain clear-eyed and realistic in measuring
progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our strategy and
resources must match our objectives and our core mission, which
is not building a perfect state, but defeating al Qaeda and
denying it and its partners a secure base from which to launch
attacks on the United States and its allies.”

PAUL PILLAR, A PROFESSOR OF SECURITY STUDIES AT
WASHINGTON’S GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY:

“The ‘review’ was not a fundamental re-examination of
policy toward Afghanistan but instead an occasion for
reiterating a message aimed at shoring up support for the war.

“There are indeed some positive results in areas where NATO
forces have concentrated their efforts, but they are more than
offset by negative trends, including an overall increase in
Taliban strength, in Afghanistan as a whole.

“The basic impediments to success in the counterinsurgency
remain, including public resentment against foreign occupation
and the lack of legitimacy for the Afghan government.”

ANDREW EXUM, SCHOLAR AT THE CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN
SECURITY IN WASHINGTON

“We are absolutely kicking the stuffing out of insurgent
leaders in southern and eastern Afghanistan. My concern is that
our tactical victories won’t be sustainable.

“When you talk about governance in Afghanistan and
sanctuaries in Pakistan, both have the same effect: they allow
the insurgency to regenerate.”

“There is a clear intent to start bringing troops home in
2011, but I think (the Obama administration is) very clear that
the pace of that withdrawal has yet to be determined. There is
still a lot of hard fighting to be done in the east.”

FAWZIA KUFI, AFGHAN LAWMAKER

“The problem is not with the tactics, the problem is with
the strategy, with the overall vision in this country and in
the region.

“We need to focus on … the roots of terrorism, which in
many cases is not in Afghanistan.”

REPRESENTATIVE IKE SKELTON, CHAIRMAN OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE

“I was very encouraged, though not surprised, to read about
the tactical progress we’ve made under the new
counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.

“However, the report leaves many questions unanswered with
regard to the way ahead. There is no clear outline of how our
progress in the region can become sustainable, or how the
Afghan government and security forces can prevent al Qaeda and
the Taliban from re-establishing safe havens in the long
term.”

RIFFAT HUSSAIN, PROFESSOR OF SECURITY STUDIES AT
QUAD-E-AZAM UNIVERSITY IN ISLAMABAD

“The review says al Qaeda on the Pakistani side is much
weaker, but the al Qaeda-affiliated groups like the Haqqani
Network and their local supporters are a big worry. … I think
the Americans now are telling the Pakistanis that look, you
should not give them the space to regroup and emerge as a
much-stronger challenge. We have weakened them; let’s continue
to press them and finish the job.

“The Pakistanis will tell the Americans: OK, we will not
let this in any way undermine the cooperation we have with you,
but on this (we will) agree to disagree. … My sense is that
Pakistanis are not thinking of launching a ground offensive any
time soon.”

NORINE MACDONALD, PRESIDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL ON
SECURITY AND DEVELOPMENT, A POLICY RESEARCH GROUP

“It … is primarily for U.S. domestic political
consumption.

“This short document itself concedes that what gains we see
can be counted as fragile and reversible.

“Here we are with gains being noted for the first time
because of the troop surge and the next thing said is that
troops should start coming out in six months.”

VANDA FELBAB-BROWN, FOREIGN POLICY FELLOW AT THE BROOKINGS
INSTITUTION

“Buried in the summary is the acknowledgment of two
significant challenges for the stabilization effort: the
continuing Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan and the poor quality
of governance in Afghanistan.

“The poor governance and corruption in Afghanistan has
escaped effective management by the international community.
Aggressive pressure on President Karzai has alienated him from
the international community without making him deliver on
improved governance. In a sense, we are in the worst possible
of worlds with Karzai.”

KAMRAN BOKHARI, REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR MIDDLE EAST AND SOUTH
ASIA WITH GLOBAL INTELLIGENCE FIRM STRATFOR

“Those of us who have been observing this very closely have
long been saying the key to Afghanistan lies in Pakistan
because if you’re going to undermine the momentum of the
Taliban on the battlefield, then you need help and assistance
from the Pakistanis. … If you’re going to negotiate with the
Taliban, then again, you need that intelligence from the
Pakistanis.

“I just don’t see what kind of further pressure the
Americans can place on the Pakistanis. It’s sort of a risky
thing. On one hand, you’ve got to get more cooperation from the
Pakistanis. But on the other hand, you don’t want to apply too
much pressure that leads to tensions with the Pakistan that
undermine the whole strategy.”

(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas in London, David Brunstromm in
Brussels, Paul Tait and Jonathon Burch in Kabul, Chris
Allbritton and Augustine Anthony in Islamabad and Missy Ryan in
Washington; editing by Will Dunham)
(For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see:
http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/afghanistanpakistan)

UPDATE 3-FACTBOX-Reactions to US review of Afghanistan war