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President Trump’s Order to withdraw US Troops and Afghan Peace Talks

Discussion in 'Strategic & Foreign Affairs' started by OsmanAli98, Jan 13, 2019.

  1. OsmanAli98

    OsmanAli98 SENIOR MEMBER

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    The Wall Street Journaland the Military Times dated 20 December 2018, reported that more than 7,000 US service members will begin returning from Afghanistan in the coming weeks, as per a White House order. The move comes just a day after Trump signaled plans to remove all U.S. forces from Syria, declaring that “We have won against ISIS.”The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has been ordered by President Trump, with the ultimate objective of ending the 17-year deployment of American forces in Afghanistan.

    It is being commented in the US political circles that Trump has made the decision to reduce troops from Afghanistan against the advice of his military commanders. Trump’s rejection of his military’s advice is quite evident as the US Defence Secretary, James Mattis has resigned from his position by citing President Trump’s lack of support for US alliances in the Middle East and Afghanistan as the reason. Also, in his recent nomination hearing to take over U.S. Central Command, Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., had recommended that the US forces should not be withdrawn from Afghanistan. Even, both Republicans and Democrats in the US Congress have criticized the Trump’s decision, saying it ignores advice from the military and intelligence leaders.

    But, President Trump appears to be determined to with draw the US forces from Afghanistan, to implement his 2016 presidential election manifesto, where he had promised less U.S. military intervention overseas, as he had emphasized on an America First foreign policy that would shrink the US role on the world stage and spend more money at home than abroad.

    Although after he took office, Trump had initially increased the U.S. troops in both the Middle East and Afghanistan upon the advice of his military commanders, declaring that Afghanistan would be a long war and no time table could be given for troop withdrawal. At that time, President, Trump probably wanted to go along with the advice of his military commanders, to see for himself whether the troop surge would prove beneficial or any further US military involvement in Afghanistan would be counterproductive, as he had always thought.

    President Trump’s firm strategy to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan for ending the Afghan war by arriving at a peace agreement with the Taliban is an encouraging sign of a possible peace in Afghanistan. Trump’s this policy is also in line with the thinking of the Afghan Government, Pakistan, Iran, Central Asian Republics, China and Russia, who are all in favour of talking to the Taliban, as they consider the IS-Khorasan as a major threat

    Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw half of the US troops from Afghanistan, indicates that he is now absolutely clear that the US military surge in Afghanistan has not paid and the military involvement in Afghanistan is becoming counterproductive. Hence, Trump is firm on ending the military involvement of the US in Afghanistan by withdrawing the US troops from there, despite the reservations of his military commanders. However, to implement his withdrawal plan, Trump needs a cover in the form of a political settlement with the Taliban and other stakeholders in Afghanistan.

    For having a negotiated peace settlement with the Taliban, President Trump appointment Zalmay Khalidzad as the US special representative for reconciliation in Afghanistan. Trump also wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, requesting “Pakistan’s full support” for the U.S. effort to advance the Afghan peace process. In this regard, the US also agreed with the Taliban to hold direct talks with them. In this context, Mr. Trump also wants positive contributions from China and Russia. By signing a peace agreement with the Taliban, and withdrawing the US troops from Afghanistan, Trump wants to be a different President from George W. Bush and Obama, who had opted for supporting military interventions abroad.

    In the light of Trump’s letter, Pakistan has promised to support the peace process to the best possible extent. In this context, Khalilzad said on November 2018, that he hoped a deal would be reached by April 2019.With the facilitation by Pakistan, the first round of talks has already been held between the US officials and the Taliban leaders in Qatar. However, the Taliban has declined to attend the second round of talks, which was scheduled to be held on 9 January 2019 in Qatar, citing their differences over the agenda points of the meeting.



    President Trump’s firm strategy to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan for ending the Afghan war by arriving at a peace agreement with the Taliban is an encouraging sign of a possible peace in Afghanistan. Trump’s this policy is also in line with the thinking of the Afghan Government, Pakistan, Iran, Central Asian Republics, China and Russia, who are all in favour of talking to the Taliban, as they consider the IS-Khorasan as a major threat.

    As stability and economic development of Pakistan is linked to the stability of Afghanistan, Pakistan should do its best to make use of this favourable regional political situation, by convincing the Taliban to continue participating in the talks with the US and other Afghan stakeholders to arrive at an early peace agreement over Afghanistan.

    The writer is an ex-Army Colonel, a former Research Fellow of Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), Islamabad and Senior Research Fellow, Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad

    Published in Daily Times, January 13th 2019.
     
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