Planned drawdown in Afghanistan imperils United States push for peace


Even before Trump's surprise withdrawal announcements, Khanna planned to introduce a bill to withdraw USA troops from Afghanistan, America's longest war.

Some 2,000 US troops are in northern Syria assisting an alliance of Syrian Arab and Kurdish fighters battling against Islamic State (IS) militants.

If the few thousand foreign troops that advise, train & assist, leave it will not affect our security, in the past four & half years our security is completely in the hands of Afghans and the final goal is that ANDSF will stand on their feet to protect & defend soil on their own.

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. "This likely would cause the general collapse of the (Afghan National Security and Defense Force) as a cohesive fighting force and lead to the return of the warlords".

Afghan officials put up a fearless face, with an adviser to President Ashraf Ghani writing on Twitter that the US decision "will not affect our security".

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US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has met Taliban representatives during at least three separate rounds of direct talks in recent months as part of the effort to encourage negotiations between the Taliban and Kabul.

Mattis and other top military advisors a year ago persuaded Trump to commit thousands more troops to Afghanistan as part of a strategy that also included ramping up air strikes on the Taliban and its relatively small but potent rival, the Islamic State group.

President Donald Trump has chose to pull roughly half of the American troops from Afghanistan within the next several weeks, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Trump's aim is to eventually withdraw all 14,000 troops in Afghanistan over the next several months, the Journal reported.

While speaking to the media in Multan on Saturday, the foreign minister spoke about the marathon peace talks held recently between the Afghan Taliban and U.S. officials at Abu Dhabi in an attempt to end the 17-year-old Afghan war.

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"It's easier for them (the Taliban) to envision waiting us out", he said.

"America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress".

American-led combat operations against the group officially ended in 2014, but in the years since the group's power and reach has soared, the BBC said.

"If you're the Taliban, Christmas has come early", a senior foreign official in the Afghan capital told AFP on the condition of anonymity.

Neighbor Pakistan, who has been harshly criticized by Trump for not doing enough to bring the Taliban to the table, had warned that a sudden departure of US troops would result in chaos in Afghanistan and destabilize the region. Trump believes withdrawing troops from Afghanistan would appeal to his base and fulfill a campaign promise. "Would you be thinking of a ceasefire if your main opponent has just withdrawn half of their troops?"

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"We have started the process of returning USA troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign". Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other senior U.S. officials had advocated to help ensure Islamic State can not reemerge.

Officials now worry that any move to withdraw United States troops this year could dampen those prospects and simply encourage the Taliban to wait it out until they can take advantage of the gaps when the forces leave.