Trump to withdraw 'significant' troops from Afghanistan

Arturo Kim
December 25, 2018

More than 7,000 American troops will begin to return home within weeks, a US official told The Wall Street Journal, which was the first to report on the Afghanistan pullout.

While Afghan officials expressed surprise, President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri took to social media to claim it would not affect the security of the country.

Trump said past year that a rapid exit of the USA troops from Afghanistan "unacceptable", and sent more than 3,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, Xinhua reported.

Donald Trump is planning to pull up to half of the 14,000 USA troops out of Afghanistan, reports have said, a day after the Republican president rebuffed top advisers and announced the withdrawal of all United States soldiers from Syria.

Trump made his decision Tuesday, the same time he told the Pentagon he wanted to pull all USA forces out of Syria and as talks were ongoing in Abu Dhabi.

The Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed senior USA official on December 20 as saying that Trump "wants to see viable options about how to bring conflicts to a close".

Mr. Trump announced Wednesday that he would pull all of the more than 2,000 American troops from Syria. "We train them to the best of our abilities", said a Western diplomat from a Resolute Support member.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Saturday said that withdrawal of United States' troops from Afghanistan will lead to bring peace in the war-torn country.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has so far declined to comment specifically on the reports. "They are a fearless, committed, and increasingly capable force, who have ensured the security of the parliamentary elections earlier this year".

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And this is exactly the situation which Pakistan has feared for many years: a sudden and unplanned withdrawal from Afghanistan which would leave Islamabad high and dry and security of its border under vast pressure.

A third official told ABC News that discussions have been underway for several weeks about how to withdraw some US troops from Afghanistan.

"I believe there will be more crime and suicide attacks". "It's hard really to say", Linkevicius told RFE/RL.

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 USA officials at Abu Dhabi in an attempt to end the 17-year-old Afghan war.

Officials now worry that any move to withdraw USA 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.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4 broadcast Friday but recorded before news of the troop withdrawal was leaked, Ghani mentioned a "sacrifice" of more than 45,000 local forces in the past four years.

Haroun Mir, an Kabul-based political analyst, says the vacuum left by withdrawing some US forces could have wider security ramifications.

The United States would still have 7,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO-led mission and a separate US counterterrorism mission, if the withdrawal order reported by various USA media outlets, citing officials, is carried out.

Michael Kugelman, South Asia associate at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, says the timing of Trump's troop-withdrawal decision "is breathtakingly bad".

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