Italy to quit Afghan campaign by 2014

As casualties in Afghanistan rise and prospects for the war seem ever less clear, another NATO member, Italy, is pulling out of the campaign.

The country's foreign minister announced Italy will begin withdrawing troops next summer.

According to the proposed schedule, over 3,000 soldiers will gradually leave by 2014.

The decision comes just days after four Italian soldiers were killed in a bomb attack in Afghanistan.

Thirty-four Italian troop members have lost their lives since 2004.

Marco Vicenzino, the founder and director of the Global Strategy Project, believes the announcement comes as a “domestic response to the recent killing of Italian soldiers last week” and much might change by 2014 and “between now and then anything can happen.”

The NATO force in Afghanistan will be a key subject at the upcoming NATO summit in Lisbon, said Vicenzino, and added that “overall for the media you are going to see more of a coherent strategy, at least in rhetoric,” but “one by one there is going to be a different situation according to country.”

“It is not just a question of NATO member states or other states participating, it is about the efficiency of the Afghan national army and it will take at least another four to five years for the Afghan national army to be at least at the basic stature that it wants to be,” he stated.

The new NATO states and would-be members like Georgia, Bulgaria and the Baltic states are eager to fight in Afghanistan because they see it as a “deterrent to what many of them see, at least in their perception, to be Russian aggression,” explained Vicenzino.

“That is debatable, but from the views of many of those potential member states, they look at it as a way of getting it good with the Americans in terms of contributing troops, but there is another flipside, the additional element is the fact that it is a way for them to guarantee their security to what many of them perceive as Russian aggression.”