Tuesday, January 24
The conference I was attending broke up early. Translation: I got bored and cut out. So I'm as free as a bird until Thursday. Translation: Now I'm working my way through a backlog of half-finished Pundita posts. To give myself a break I looked up the news from France regarding A'stan. Here's the latest from VOA (with my comments inserted in a few places), which seems to indicate that Sarkozy has calmed down a little. Even so I wouldn't want to be in Karzai's shoes when he meets behind closed doors later this week with France's President.
France Rules Out Hasty Afghanistan Withdrawal
Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 at 1:35 pm ET
France is ruling out a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan after an Afghan soldier shot and killed four French troops last week.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy suspended military operations in Afghanistan and said he was considering an early pullout from the country if security conditions are not clearly established following Friday's attack in eastern Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told parliament that France will not give in to panic [Pundita note: Panic? I think it was rage.] and immediately withdraw all French troops from Afghanistan this year. He said calls for a complete withdrawal of troops by the end of of 2012 have not been thought through.
France has about 3,600 soldiers serving in Afghanistan, mainly in the east, with all French combat troops scheduled to leave the country in 2014.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai left Tuesday for a five-day trip to Turkmenistan and Europe. He is expected to travel to France, where his office says he will sign a strategic partnership treaty with President Sarkozy.
On Friday, an Afghan soldier opened fire on unarmed French troops during a training exercise at a base in Kapisa province. The shooting was the latest in a series of incidents in which international troops have been killed by Afghan security forces.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reiterated the attack was isolated. He [Pundita note: Aw, put a sock in it, Rasmussen. The New York Times is standing by its report.] told the French newspaper Le Monde Tuesday that he understood France's concerns about security and that the process of recruiting Afghan soldiers must be reexamined.
French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet was quoted as saying the shooter was an insurgent infiltrator. But NATO officials said Tuesday it was too early to tell if the Taliban was behind last week's killing of the four French troops.
Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Carsten Jacobsen told reporters said that past investigations into similar events have found many different reasons for them.
He said “there are no indicators of a systemic issues of infiltration” by the Taliban into the Afghan security forces and that officials look at this “closely every day.” [Pundita note: What you mean 'we' Kemosabe? Has the Coalition asked Afghanistan's intelligence service to look into whether the attacks have been systemic since -- let me see -- 2009? Say, wasn't that the year LeT established a major presence in Afghanistan, or do I have the years mixed up again?]