Donald Trump’s order to recall half the US force from Afghanistan puts NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in a quandary: Should NATO stay or leave? The answer must be ready in February.
Updated less than 30 minutes ago
– We are facing a brutal dilemma, says Jens Stoltenberg to VG on Monday afternoon.
The decision covers the further fate of about 100 Norwegian soldiers who assist Afghan special police, and who head a military hospital in Kabul.
An agreement between the United States and the Taliban states that the foreign soldiers will be out of Afghanistan by May 1 next year, with a number of reservations such as that the use of violence in the country has been greatly reduced.
NATO currently has about 11,000 troops in Afghanistan, 4,500 are American, and Trump has decided that 2,000 will “go home for Christmas.”
Stoltenberg warned Trump: High price for withdrawal from Afghanistan
Stoltenberg describes the dilemma as follows, ahead of a digital meeting between NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday and Wednesday:
– Should we stay in Afghanistan, risk extending our mission there while the violence continues to increase?
– Or are we going to go home and destroy everything we have achieved in 20 years? Then we also risk even more violence against NATO forces and an even longer presence in Afghanistan, says NATO Secretary General to VG.
100 Norwegian soldiers in Afghanistan: Assessing security on an ongoing basis
Even though Trump has for several years announced that he wanted out of the US “meaningless wars”, the decision came abruptly to Norway and the other allies. The issue has been acute for NATO countries in recent weeks.
When the United States announced that it would make a decision to withdraw, Stoltenberg issued a completely unusual warning to Trump:
“The price of leaving too early and uncoordinated can be very high,” said Stoltenberg, pointing out that Afghanistan could once again become a platform for international terrorism.
In the days that followed, there was hectic contact between Brussels and Washington to clarify whether the United States would continue to take responsibility for overall force protection for NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.
The United States has since confirmed that it maintains capabilities such as intelligence, medical evacuation and aircraft and helicopter support.
Thus, the other NATO countries were willing to continue their contributions, at least over the winter. But no NATO country wants to send more troops to Afghanistan. On the contrary:
“It has never been NATO’s intention to stay in Afghanistan forever,” says Stoltenberg.
Now the tension is linked to whether Joe Biden will change Trump’s Afghanistan decision when he takes over as US president on January 20. But Stoltenberg will not answer that.
“The United States can only have one president at a time,” he told a news conference.
He also would not say whether Biden signaled changes in Trump’s Afghanistan policy, when Stoltenberg spoke to Biden on the phone last week:
– It would be wrong of me to comment on what he said. But I explained the importance of us coordinating, said Stoltenberg.
Published: 30.11.20 kl. 15:53
Updated: 30.11.20 at 16:07
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