Entries in Ryan Crocker (6)


US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker to Step Down

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker will step down this summer due to “health reasons,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland confirmed Tuesday. His departure will come "following the Kabul and Tokyo conferences,” Nuland said in a statement.

Nuland would not elaborate on what is ailing the U.S. ambassador, but she did say that Crocker’s departure was not driven by his "heavy workload," but instead something specific that he has been "working through."

Nuland said Crocker is making his health concerns public because he wants to make it clear that his leaving should not be seen "in any way as a lessening of his personal commitment and our national commitment to Afghanistan."

Crocker was appointed out of retirement in 2011.

Critics say one of the problems with the Afghan mission is the turnover of generals and top diplomats, few of which have lasted more than two years at their posts.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US, Afghanistan Agree on Basics of Post-War Deal

The White House/Pete Souza(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- After months of bad news, something has finally gone right for the U.S. in Afghanistan.

American Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta announced Sunday that their two governments had come to an agreement on a strategic partnership deal that sets up the U.S. role during and after the military withdrawal from Afghanistan scheduled for 2014.

Spanta said the pact that he claims took more than a year of work, "provides a strong foundation for the security of Afghanistan, the region and the world and is a document for the development of the region."

Two issues decided before the agreement was finalized were turning over U.S.-run prisons to Afghan control and allowing national forces to take the lead on nighttime raids.

Meanwhile, Washington and Kabul are punting for now on the questions of long-term U.S. access to military bases and the status of any American forces that remain in the country when most troops have left, figuring they'll have time over the next few years to iron out any differences.

The deal also doesn't include Afghan President Hamid Karzai's demand for $2 billion a year in funding from the U.S.

It's expected the strategic partnership deal will be signed, sealed and delivered before a NATO summit scheduled next month in Chicago that will be attended by both President Obama and Karzai.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Haqqani Network Charged with Launching Major Offensive in Afghanistan

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The U.S. is blaming a Pakistani insurgent group for launching a series of coordinated attacks last Sunday that struck Kabul and other major cities in Afghanistan.

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker said Thursday that the Pentagon is confident the Haqqani network, which has ties to both the Taliban and al Qaeda, was behind the effort to target the Afghan parliament and various embassies in Kabul.

The assault was initially billed as the start of the Taliban's spring offensive, but evidence since then points to a more intricate and carefully plotted attack that is more the hallmark of the Haqqani network.

Crocker called the insurgents "the worst of the worst" and "a group of killers, pure and simple."

Afghan security forces with little help from the coalition were able to beat back the 18-hour siege, which cost the lives of 12 Afghans.  Meanwhile, three dozen Haqqani fighters died during the attacks.

This latest action by the Haqqani network spurred Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to demand that Islamabad shut down sanctuaries in Pakistan that the group and other militants continue to use as a base to launch attacks inside Afghanistan.

However, critics in Pakistan accused the U.S. of using the Haqqani network as an excuse to justify drone attacks in the lawless northwestern region where the Taliban, al Qaeda and the Haqqanis hold sway.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Ambassador Dispels Rumors of 'Secret' Deal with Taliban

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- America's top envoy to Afghanistan insisted on Tuesday that the U.S. is making no secret deal with the Taliban that would divide up the country.

Rumors have persisted in the Afghan media that in its haste to leave Afghanistan, the U.S. is prepared to either split up Afghanistan or change its form of government as a concession to the Taliban to stop fighting after more than 10 years of war.

While Ambassador Ryan Crocker praised the need for "free and independent media" in Afghanistan, he said that allegations of secret talks with the Taliban, "are, frankly speaking, lies that dishonor the sacrifice of more than 1,800 American service members who have died in the cause of a unified Afghanistan, governed by its Constitution."

According to Crocker, the U.S. is, "committed to supporting the efforts of the central government, to build a strong, secure, democratic, and unified Afghanistan," particularly since American taxpayers have largely footed the bill to achieve that objective.

Crocker maintained that President Hamid Karzai endorsed a plan to open an office for the Taliban in Qatar in order to facilitate peace talks but that it actually won't happen until the enemy issues a, "clear statement...against international terrorism and in support of a peace process to end the armed conflict in Afghanistan."

Recently, Vice President Joe Biden made headlines by saying to Newsweek, "The Taliban per se, is not our enemy." The White House stood behind the statement, despite the fact that the group has ties to Al Qeada and its fighters have been killing American and other Western troops in Afghanistan since troops landed in the country in the days after the 9/11 attacks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Ambassador to Afghanistan Promises 'Gradual Withdrawal'

US Dept of State(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration's latest strategy in Afghanistan was described this week by its new ambassador, veteran diplomat Ryan Crocker.

Crocker, the former envoy to Iraq with decades of experience in the Arab world, said right after taking his oath of office that the U.S. was on track to begin a gradual withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan -- the first such drawdown since the war began 10 years ago to destroy al Qaeda training camps and oust the Taliban regime.

While the Taliban and its allies have stayed dedicated to reacquiring power in Afghanistan, Crocker made it clear of the U.S. goal "to step back and for the Afghans to step forward and they are doing so."

The White House plans to pull out 5,000 troops by summer's end and an equal number by the conclusion of 2011, with another 23,000 on the way out during the first eight months of 2012.  That figure would encompass the 33,000 soldiers the president ordered deployed to Afghanistan in early 2010 with the entire American contingent reaching 100,000 personnel.

Even as the U.S. seeks to end its long involvement in Afghanistan, Crocker promised there would be "no rush for the exits," explaining, "The way we do this in the months ahead will have consequences far beyond Afghanistan and far into the future.  Frankly, we left the wrong way in the early 1990s, and we all know the history of those decisions: the civil war, the rise of the Taliban, sanctuary for al Qaeda, and 9/11."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Afghanistan Strategy Questioned as New Report Warns of Economic Crisis

U.S. Dept of State(WASHINGTON) -- Corruption and poor governance remain key challenges in Afghanistan, career diplomat Ryan Crocker testified at his nomination hearing for U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, the day Senate Democrats reported that the war-torn nation risks falling into a crisis when U.S. troops hand over power in 2014.

"I'm under no illusions of the difficulty of the challenge," the former ambassador to Iraq and Pakistan testified Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "If Iraq was hard, and it was hard, Afghanistan in many respects is harder."

The United States has provided about $18.8 billion in foreign aid to Afghanistan in the past decade, more than any other country, including Iraq, according to a report compiled by Senate Democrats for the Foreign Relations Committee.

The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) spend roughly $320 million a month on aid in Afghanistan, mostly on short-term stabilization programs in the south and east of the country.

While the aid has "achieved some real successes" -- mainly in the education sector -- the report questions whether the money and the United States' counter-insurgency focus is making Afghans more reliant on outside forces and will change the equation in the long term.

"Foreign aid, when misspent, can fuel corruption, distort labor and goods markets, undermine the host government's ability to exert control over resources and contribute to insecurity," the report states. "Afghanistan could suffer a severe economic depression when foreign troops leave in 2014 unless the proper planning begins now."

The United States hopes to hand over security power to Afghans by 2014, although some troops are expected to remain.

President Obama and his administration have carefully acknowledged that gains made in the country in the past 10 years are fragile and reversible. Proponents of the war use that to argue that the United States shouldn't indulge in a hasty withdrawal of troops from the country, especially as discussions ramp up ahead of the July deadline. But critics use the same argument to make the case that the United States should bring back its troops from a country where the future is, at best, uncertain.

"This is a messy situation that isn't getting any better," Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said Wednesday. "The problems here are very, very significant....I am very skeptical about how we're going to be able to handle this."

The issue of how many U.S. troops should be brought back when the drawdown begins next month has been a touchy one. Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates has warned against a "premature" move and the White House has said the president's decision would be based on conditions on the ground, a sentiment that Crocker echoed Wednesday.

"As we go through a responsible transition, I think it has to be conditions-based to ensure that as we draw down our forces," he told senators. "And I'm keenly aware from my consultations of the mood both here on the Hill and publicly, there has to be transition. But at the end of the day, we have to be sure that the safe haven doesn't then relocate from Pakistan to Afghanistan."

Some argue that with Osama bin Laden's death, the terrorist threat against the United States has diminished. But Crocker warned against that argument, saying that much more still needs to be done to contain al Qaeda.

Crocker, who has served as ambassador to Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Pakistan and Iraq, is expected to be confirmed on a bipartisan basis.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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