WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The rise of the Islamic State in the Middle East is creating a dark cloud over Central Asia as the extremist group moves into Afghanistan and aims at destabilizing states in the region, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told a joint meeting of the US Congress on Wednesday.
“Terrorist movements, whose goal is to destabilize every state in the region, are looking for new bases of operation.” Ghani said. “The Daesh [Islamic State] is already sending advanced guards to Southern and Western Afghanistan to test our vulnerabilities.”
Terrorists who recognize no borders are a threat to the Central Asian region and to the world, the Afghan president said, adding that Afghanistan is the frontline in the fight against extremism.
he government of Afghanistan will focus its efforts on achieving self-reliance and has the resources to accomplish that goal within this decade, Ashraf Ghani said.
“You [the United States] have reaffirmed your commitment to support Afghanistan. On our side, we will focus on self-reliance,” Ghani stated. “Will we have the resources to provide a sustained basis for our operations… within this decade, we will.”
On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama announced he would hold the number of US troops in Afghanistan at 9,800 to provide additional support to the Afghan government as the Spring and Summer fighting season commences, reversing a previous decision for a gradual drawdown of all troops by the end of 2015.
The United States also pledged to seek congressional funding to maintain Afghan security forces at 352,000 through 2017.
The United States-led NATO mission formally ended its combat role in Afghnanistan on December 31, 2014. The remaining US and NATO forces advise, train and assist the Afghan security forces, although the US special forces also have a mandate to carry out and support counter-terrorism operations.