Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

BUSINESS DAILY

Budget challenge for India's new government

Read more

DEBATE

Africa's Newest Failed State: How to Stop Civil War and Famine in South Sudan? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Africa's Newest Failed State: How to Stop Civil War and Famine in South Sudan?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Israeli strikes on Gaza as seen on social media

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

World Cup humiliation for host nation

Read more

DEBATE

Israel and the Palestinians: How to Break the Cycle of Violence?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Somalia : Al Shebab attack on presidential palace

Read more

FOCUS

Sharia law to be enshrined in British legal system?

Read more

ENCORE!

How a comedy dud became one of France's biggest box office hits

Read more

  • Israel steps up airstrikes as diplomacy gets under way

    Read more

  • Argentina beat Netherlands on penalties to reach World Cup final

    Read more

  • Foiled French jihadist ‘targeted Louvre and Eiffel Tower’

    Read more

  • Obama in Texas to urge congressional action on child migrant crisis

    Read more

  • Iraq’s heritage 'in danger' from ISIS militants

    Read more

  • Froome crashes out of Tour de France

    Read more

  • South Sudan independence heroes ‘have lost their way’

    Read more

  • 100 years on, the Tour de France returns to the Western Front

    Read more

  • Dozens of blindfolded bodies found south of Baghdad

    Read more

  • Alps Murder wife had ex-husband who died on same day

    Read more

  • Both candidates say they won Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • Brazil players should never wear 'sacred uniform' again, press says

    Read more

  • Exiled Syrian opposition elects new president

    Read more

  • Ukraine imposes new conditions on peace talks with pro-Russia rebels

    Read more

  • Sarkozy's UMP party 'almost €80 million in debt'

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Petraeus makes public debut as new Afghan war commander

©

Video by Kathryn STAPLEY

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-07-04

US General David Petraeus made his public debut on Saturday as commander of the Afghan war. Replacing sacked General Stanley McChrystal, Petraeus will try to bring peace and secure a face-saving exit for allied troops fighting the Taliban.

AFP - US General David Petraeus made his public debut on Saturday as commander of the Afghan war, celebrating US Independence Day in one of the most heavily guarded places in the country.
  
The four-star general, who arrived in the Afghan capital on Friday, faces a tough task to bring peace and secure a face-saving exit for allied troops fighting the Taliban, observers say.
  
Replacing the sacked US General Stanley McChrystal, Petraeus has said the war in Afghanistan -- now well into its ninth year -- is likely to get tougher before significant improvements are seen.
  
He arrives as deaths of US and NATO soldiers are touching record highs in intensified fighting, along with questions about the wisdom of committing such huge resources in manpower and money to what could yet be a lost cause.
  
The general wore military fatigues as he stood with the US ambassador to receive some 1,700 US diplomats and guests on the lawn of the sprawling US embassy in Kabul to mark the Fourth of July.
  
His appointment as commander of the 140,000 US and NATO troops in Afghanistan has been welcomed by local officials, including President Hamid Karzai, who is increasingly seen in the West as a loose cannon.
  
But analysts urged Petraeus to make immediate adjustments to rapidly turn around a war seen as bogged down to the Taliban's advantage.
  
"Petraeus must change the fundamental strategy of the war against the Taliban," said parliamentarian Ahmad Behzad.
  
"A change in the leadership of foreign forces can only be effective if we see more serious steps taken against terrorists," he told AFP.
  
McChrystal's reputation had suffered from the failure of foreign forces to secure the poppy-growing district of Marjah, in southern Helmand province, in a massive operation launched in February, said political analyst Haroun Mir.
  
A planned escalation in operations against the Taliban in Kandahar province, the militants' heartland, had been postponed to September, Mir noted, adding: "And we don't know if it will ever go ahead."
  
Despite assurances from US President Barack Obama, and Petraeus himself, that the change of command does not mean a change in strategy, the general has already hinted some tweaks could be in the air.
  
Troops have complained that McChrystal's "courageous restraint" rule, aimed at minimising civilian casualties, prevents them from properly defending themselves -- thus contributing to the spike in casualties.
  
A total of 102 foreign soldiers died in June, almost triple the May toll and far outstripping the previous highest monthly figure of 77 in August.
  
So far in 2010, more than 320 troops have died, compared to 520 for 2009, with a British soldier becoming the latest casualty on Thursday.
  
Petraeus conceded this week that troops were unhappy with the rules of engagement, which limit air strikes and artillery and mortar fire, but he denied he planned changes.
  
He told a news conference after meeting NATO ambassadors in Brussels on Thursday: "I have a moral imperative as a commander... to bring all force that is available to bear when our troopers, and by the way our Afghan partners, are in a tough position."
  
As the architect of the counter-insurgency strategy that helped quell the civil war in Iraq, and which had been largely applied to Afghanistan under McChrystal, Petraeus was "the right man for the job", a military official said.
  
But he noted that the general's arrival coincides with growing calls for talks with Taliban leaders, a timetable for withdrawal and intensifying pressure on Karzai to build the country's own security capacity as well as cracking down on endemic corruption.
  
Petraeus's relationship with Karzai would be central to his success, analysts and diplomats said, noting that McChrystal nurtured Karzai as "commander in chief" and improved his ties with Washington.
  
"Being able to work with an Afghan partner is key to this war," said Kabul University law lecturer Wadir Safi.
  
"Otherwise, given the present situation, if 10 Petraeuses come and go, nothing is going to change, especially when he plans to start withdrawing in July 2011."
  
The scale of the task facing the 57-year-old Petraeus and the troops under his command was underlined just hours before he arrived in Afghanistan when Taliban militants stormed a US aid organisation, leaving five people dead.

Date created : 2010-07-03

  • AFGHANISTAN

    Petraeus vows to protect civilians and lower troop casualties

    Read more

  • USA

    Petraeus warns of tough fight ahead in Afghanistan

    Read more

  • USA

    Afghan policy remains unchanged as Petraeus replaces McChrystal

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)