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USA ‘to pull 7,000 troops’ from Afghanistan

25 December, 2018, 11:56 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • US troops Afghanistan

President Trump's announcement was not only a shook for his own country's military establishment but also for concerned regional states which are heavily invested in the Afghan conflict.

"Pakistan could only get affected had it be a full withdrawal of troops that could ultimately lead to vacuum and civil war in Afghanistan", Brig (retd) Mahmood Shah told APP when asked about the possible fallout of the decision of Trump administration, on Pakistan. In a statement issued after the conclusion of the Abu Dhabi talks, Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdulllah Mohib said: "As a sovereign country, no other country or individual has the right or the authority to discuss new governance formulas or structures for Afghanistan, including political dispensations, which violate the Afghan Constitution", he said. And the decision on Afghanistan and perhaps Syria was a nail in the coffin. They say that the first United States troops could be returning home as soon as January. However, this is something which can not be done overnight when you have multiple state actors engaged with you or for their own interests to see a calm and peaceful resolution to the conflict situation.

Trump had repeatedly before his election campaign in 2016, publicly advocated leaving Afghanistan - where USA forces have been since 2001.

The announcement seems certain to complicate efforts to reach a peace deal, mostly because it gives the Taliban leverage by allowing them to hold off until a total United States withdrawal, or step up their demands over a weakened Afghan government.

It was unclear which American troops might leave or whether North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has been informed.

There are now about 14,000 USA troops serving in a counterterrorism mission against the Taliban and ISIS and as part of a train, advise, and assist mission for Afghan security forces.

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The news followed a two-day meeting in Abu Dhabi between USA special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives at which the two sides discussed the withdrawal of global forces and a ceasefire in 2019. The details of the meeting only underscore that both sides presented their key demands. Many critics have said a USA departure would be a betrayal to those fighters, who would face the dangers of a Turkish assault.

Taken together, the Syria withdrawal and the likely Afghan drawdown represent a dramatic shift in the US approach to military engagement in hot spots around the world, reflecting Mr. Trump's aversion to long-running military entanglements with their high costs and American casualties.

What is the story of the USA in Afghanistan?

Trump's decision could scuttle USA efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict, analysts warn.

"Earlier this month, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers expressed steadfast commitment to ensuring long-term security and stability in Afghanistan", Lungescu said.

"The Taliban has steadily captured territory in recent years and it's reasonable to expect that trend to continue", says Graeme Smith, an Afghanistan analyst and a consultant for the International Crisis Group, although he adds that in practical terms the withdrawal "may not make a significant difference on the battlefield", and Washington could replace departed troops with security contractors. Beyond what Washington deems fit to its interests in Afghanistan, China, Russia, and Pakistan have been holding meetings and preparing for a post-U.S. Afghanistan phase.

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