President Donald Trump wants to sharply reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan. This can have serious consequences for the peace process, according to a researcher at the Department of Peace Research.
The US Department of Defense announced on Tuesday night that the number of US troops in Afghanistan will be reduced from 4,500 to 2,500.
The Pentagon also confirmed that it would reduce the number of US troops in Iraq from 3,000 to 2,500.
Researcher Kristian Berg Harpviken at the Department of Peace Research says that he is not very surprised by the announcement to the Pentagon. He points out that this is an acceleration of something that was planned to happen early next year.
– Another reason why I am not surprised is that when Trump has shuffled the leadership of the Pentagon, it is obvious that he wants to use it for something. I waited for this to happen and will be surprised if there are no other things that can make life a little difficult for Joe Biden, says Harpviken.
May lose the last strong bargaining chip
On Tuesday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned against moving too fast in the region. The researcher shares his concerns, primarily due to the ongoing peace process.
– It is a difficult process, first and foremost because the Americans have actually lost all their own and the Afghan government’s cards. The Taliban have already met many of their demands, so it is difficult to move forward, Harpviken explains and continues:
– If they withdraw completely militarily, they may lose the last strong bargaining chip to the Afghan government and the international forces. Then it is very unlikely that you will reach a peace agreement.
An agreement between the Taliban and the government, signed in February, is the basis for the negotiations. This agreement imposes on the Taliban, among other things, a reduction in the extent of the violence. If they do not comply with these terms, the United States will stop the withdrawal and resume hostilities.
– If they quickly pull out all the forces, the rice behind the mirror is gone, the researcher says.
Stoltenberg: The price can be very high
Trump’s plans to bring troops home have provoked strong reactions internationally. The concern is also great among the Afghan government and among Afghan citizens.
– Because they see that it can have serious consequences. That the peace negotiations will fail and that it will be possible to further intensify the war. Many do not know that Afghanistan in these three years has been the world’s most deadly conflict, says Harpviken.
According to Axios, Trump has expressed frustration to his advisers that the withdrawal is too slow, and said that he wants it to happen before Christmas. One of his promises during the 2016 campaign was to bring home American soldiers.
“It’s time to go home,” the new Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller wrote in a statement to US military forces last week. It was interpreted as a warning of a significant reduction in the force both in Afghanistan and in Syria.
– We are now facing a difficult decision. The price of leaving prematurely and uncoordinated can be very high, Stoltenberg said in a written statement.
Mitch McConnell with warning
Trump fired his former defense secretary Mark Esper last week and installed Miller. But a few days before he was deposed, Esper is said to have sent a secret note to the president and warned against withdrawing the soldiers, according to the Washington Post.
– Afghanistan risks once again becoming a platform for international terrorists who plan and carry out attacks in our home countries. And ISIL can rebuild the caliphate in Afghanistan that they lost in Syria and Iraq, Stoltenberg warns.
Republican House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a similar warning on Monday, according to Axios.
“A rapid withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan will now harm our allies and please those who want to harm us,” McConnell was quoted as saying by the media house.
He compared a withdrawal from Afghanistan to the withdrawal in 1975 of US forces from Ho Chi Minh City after the Vietnam War, which the Republican described as “humiliating.”
Published: 17.11.20 kl. 20:18
Updated: 17.11.20 kl. 21:26
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