Afghan community gives reaction to Obama plan

June 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
President Barack Obama gave a national speech Wednesday night on the war in Afghanistan and set the course for the withdrawal of 33,000 troops within the next year. He is calling for 10,000 troops to come home in two phases starting this summer and another 23,000 by next summer. ABC7 went to Fremont's Little Kabul to get reaction from the Afghan community to what the president had to say.

"Of course we are tired of war. Especially the afghan women," said Rona Popal.

Popal heads the Afghan Coalition in Fremont. She says she agrees with a gradual withdrawal of troops but worries about after the withdrawal is complete. She remembers what it was like under Taliban rule before the U.S. drove them out in 2002.

"Once the troops withdraw from Afghanistan, we will see again the chaos which is the warlords and also the Taliban, they're going to be back in Afghanistan and then we go back to square one," said Popal.

The U.S. is now funding more than 99,000 troops in Afghanistan. Popal says that the money spent on them and the war should be used differently.

"I support the withdrawal, but I would like to ask the U.S. administration and the Congress to think about it, if they can put that money back to the rebuilding of Afghanistan," said Popal.

Afghans we spoke to in Fremont all agree the U.S. should stay and help create jobs and improve the infrastructure of their country. Howevery, they are split on the government being able to take care of their own country when U.S. troops finally leave.

Electrical engineer Farid Haminy returned from Afghanistan two months ago.

"From what I see, Afghans can take care of themselves but there has to be a training process that has to be established and slowly [leave] certain responsibilities to Afghans," said Haminy.

"If we pull out from Afghanistan and we build an Afghani army of 240,000, or whatever number we are going to have at the time. If we didn't succeed, how will we expect that that army is going to succeed," said Waheed Momand Ph.D., a former State Department consultant.

Momand was an U.S. State Department consultant in Afghanistan for years. He, like many others, agree that a complete troop withdrawal should be gradual, but the U.S. should commit to a long lasting presence and economic aid.

Momand also believes that he hopes the U.S. can help end corruption in Afghan because he says that's the only way that the people believe it's possible to improve their country.

The Defense Department puts the cost of the 10-year war at $288.5 billion. That puts spending at nearly $5 to $6 billion a month. Those figures are through April of this year.

And that's not even counting the human toll. There are 6,160 crosses in the hillside memorial off Highway 24 in Lafayette. They represent the men and women killed in combat in the war in Afghanistan as well as Iraq.

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