WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's expansion of the war in Afghanistan has eroded the power of the al-Qaida terrorists who attacked America in 2001 and the resurgent Taliban militants who gave them cover, according to his own government's review. The findings ensure that Obama will stay the course, with US forces to remain at war through 2014.
US troops will begin to leave Afghanistan in July, according to the report, the same timeline that Obama promised one year ago and has consistently upheld in recent weeks. But the scope and pace of that withdrawal remain unclear, and both are expected to be modest, given the enormity of the security and governance challenges in Afghanistan.
On al-Qaida, the White House review speaks of major progress in dismantling the Pakistan-based leadership of the terror network. "Most important, al-Qaida's senior leadership in Pakistan is weaker and under more sustained pressure than at any other point since it fled Afghanistan in 2001," the report finds. It warns that the US is still the principal target for al-Qaida, and that "Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to be the operational base for the group that attacked us on 9/11."
The United States has lasting trouble in ridding Pakistan of its havens for terrorists. The report raises that sore point by saying Pakistan must provide more help in solving the problem, particularly in the dangerous border zone with Afghanistan.