Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States trumpeted major portions of Barack Obama’s approach towards his country on Tuesday, marking the second time in as many weeks that an official at the center of U.S.-Mideast policy has echoed the Illinois Senator’s agenda.
Said Jawad, who has been at the ambassador’s post since 2003, avoided specific references to Obama and his rival Sen. John McCain. But on a broad range of issues that divide the two candidates — defining the main battleground in the war on terror, U.S. military commitments to Afghanistan, and combating terrorist activity in Pakistan — he agreed with the prescriptions of the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Sipping occasionally from a glass of mint-flavored iced tea, the ambassador argued that the war in Iraq had diverted military and material resources from Afghanistan. He described the border his country shared with Pakistan as “the central front of the war on terror, certainly,” stressing the need for additional American forces. And he offered what amounted to a heartfelt endorsement of Obama’s proposal to target high-level al Qaeda figures in northwest Pakistan, even without that country’s acquiescence.
“We would appreciate it if Pakistan could take full responsibility in dealing with them,” he said. “But if they can’t, if they don’t have the resources, they should allow the international community to take these elements out, for the sake of Pakistan, for the sake of Afghanistan, and for the sake of the world. These are criminals. We should allow the humanity to go out and eliminate these enemies of humanity. We should not fool ourselves with the legal questions such as sovereignty.”
General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, has offered his most optimistic assessment so far, forecasting that US forces could hand over control of the entire country to the Iraqi military by the end of next year.
His estimated timeframe for transferring military responsibility fits with Senator Barack Obama’s goal of withdrawing US combat troops by mid-2010, and is likely to hand the Democratic presidential candidate some kudos on the campaign trail.