US To Pull Out 7000 Troops From Afghanistan

April FrancisDec 23, 2018

USA military officials grappled Friday with President Donald Trump's order to pull almost half of all US troops from Afghanistan, a move that would likely focus the war squarely on one of the few military efforts the president says he cares about: counterterrorism. "There will be a significant withdrawal". "But our courageous defense and security forces defended this country and its people with courage and proved these analyses wrong", he added. Taliban insurgents staged a deadly coordinated attack targeting a British security firm in the Afghan capital Wednesday.

"The withdrawal of American forces amid Russian Federation and other neighboring countries' control over the Taliban, the pressure from Islamic State, the Taliban violence and the Afghan government weakness, would lead the country into another civil war", Abdul Basir Wasiq, an activist in northern Balkh province, told VOA.

In Afghanistan and at the Pentagon, military officials have privately discussed the possibility that Trump would run out of patience with the war.

Veteran Afghanistan-born USA diplomat, Zalmay Khalilzad, too appeared upbeat as he said he held "productive" meetings in the UAE with Afghan and global partners "to promote intra-Afghan dialogue towards ending the conflict".

The U.S.'s plans to withdraw about 7,000 troops, almost half of its current strength, from Afghanistan, has invited strong, shocked reactions from Afghans as well as worldwide stakeholders.

Analysts here widely believe that US forces withdrawal, a pre-condition set by the Taliban representatives in the UAE meetings, would strengthen peace negotiations with the Taliban and encourage the ongoing process.

Other influential voices in foreign policy weighed in wearily Friday about Afghanistan, but focused mainly on the consequences of withdrawing all USA troops from Afghanistan, a move that would hamstring the Pentagon's ability to carry out strikes against the Islamic State, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

"Now it has a tremendous battlefield advantage, which gives it the opportunity to scale up its fight in a huge way".

Since then, U.S. forces have provided training and advice, assisting in military operations only when requested by Afghan troops. "United States leadership keeps our transatlantic alliance strong".

"He was very influential and personally involved in doing that", Campbell said.

In announcing the new USA strategy in South Asia in 2017, President Trump criticized the previous US administration for announcing timelines and instead emphasized that his approach would be based on conditions on the ground.

Najib Alokozai, a journalist in eastern Nangarhar, downplays the drawdown.

Susan Collins says there’s ‘absolutely no excuse to shut down government’
I will be the one to shut it down. "I'm not going to negotiate the details on air with you right now", he told Brennan. The Obama administration did not enforce the separation policy the way the Trump administration has done.

Bill Roggio, an Afghanistan analyst with the US-based Foundation for Defence of Democracies, said: "A complete withdrawal of USA forces would very likely cause the Taliban to make gains in key areas throughout Afghanistan".

Alokozai added, however, "People are concerned that if all the foreign forces leave Afghanistan, the country would fall into conflict".

Trump's state of mind is sure to have given a sense of urgency to U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been working to reach a negotiated end to America's longest war and has been pushing for a deal by April.

Mattis and other top military advisors previous year persuaded Trump to commit thousands of new troops to Afghanistan, where the Taliban are slaughtering local forces in record numbers and making major territorial gains.

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad this week concluded another round of direct talks with Taliban negotiators in the United Arab Emirates.

US officials have been attempting to push the Taliban to the negotiating table with the government in Kabul.

But a senior Taliban commander welcomed the decision.

United States government's figures show that more than 2,400 Americans have died in Afghanistan since 2001, and this year 13 were killed in combat.

The Taliban have reportedly celebrated the news of a US troop drawdown as a victory for the insurgent group.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid would not comment about the troop withdrawal when contacted by AFP.

"Over USD 43 billion dollars are currently being spent on Afghanistan each year and the Taliban now exerts influence or maintains control over 50 per cent of Afghan territory".

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