Anyone expecting definitive news this week about the future of Afghanistan should get ready for disappointment.NATO’s high-profile summit ending Friday was originally designed to tout Afghanistan’s political and military successes. It was to serve as one of the first curtain calls for the 49-nation allied war coalition known as ISAF, which is slated to dissolve at the end of this year, and could have been the forum where members would announce post-2014 troop commitments.
Instead the formal summit in Wales, and its many opportunities for sideline chats, centered squarely on the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine. NATO reported last week Russian troops had invaded, forcing the Cold War-era military alliance to once again determine how it will counter aggression from its Eastern foe. It is expected to announce Friday the creation of a new rapid-force to help assure member nations along the Russian border that they would be protected by potential invasion.
As a result, NATO released a bland and vague statement about Afghanistan midday Thursday, based largely on existing agreements from 2010, 2011 and 2012 that spelled out the withdrawal plan. NATO will remain committed to Afghanistan and its fledgling government, the statement said, but offered few specifics.