What Would A US Troop Reduction In Afghanistan Mean?

What Would A US Troop Reduction In Afghanistan Mean?

What Would A US Troop Reduction In Afghanistan Mean?

A separate U.S. force also conducts strikes on Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and the Taliban.

The Pentagon is developing plans to withdraw up to half of the 14,000 American troops serving in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Thursday, marking a sharp change in the Trump administration's policy aimed at forcing the Taliban to the peace table after more than 17 years of war.

USA 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.

Taliban insurgents, however, control almost half of Afghanistan and are more powerful than at any time since a 2001 USA -led invasion.

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

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

President Donald Trump has long pushed to pull troops out of Afghanistan, considering the war a lost cause. His decision was made public a mere few hours after he abruptly announced the USA was withdrawing troops from Syria.

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While Afghanistan's government was not included in the talks, Kabul was concerned that a hasty agreement between the U.S. and Taliban negotiators would potentially undermine the country's security.

Mr Trump's state of mind is sure to have given a sense of urgency to USA 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.

In an interview with Afghanistan's TOLO TV on Thursday hours before the withdrawal plans were announced he noted Trump had campaigned for president on a promise to end the Afghan war, which has already cost Americans almost $1 trillion.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

About half of those troops are American.

"Considering the decision as a serious US endgame step, political elites in Kabul will probably aim to close ranks and raise questions about the timing and commitments made to maintain stability", says Omar Samad, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Atlantic Council and former Afghan diplomat. The troops routinely complain about reinforcements that arrive too late, equipment that fails and even running out of food.

US troops stormed into Afghanistan in November 2001 in an invasion triggered by the September 11 attacks. It was unclear which American troops might leave or whether North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has been informed.

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