Taliban welcomes withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan

by Garry Watts December 23, 2018, 7:47
Taliban welcomes withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan

About half of those troops are American.

The spokesman for Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani said on Friday the of half of the 14,000 United States troops serving in Afghanistan will have little impact on the fighting capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces.

Qureshi added that Pakistan had released some Taliban detainees to help facilitate the peace talks and to "create an enabling environment".

Analysts interviewed by RFE/RL warn that a partial withdrawal would further degrade security, jeopardize possible peace talks with the Taliban aimed at ending its 17-year insurgency, and strain Washington's relationship with the Western-backed government in Kabul.

Taliban insurgents, however, control almost half of Afghanistan and are more powerful than at any time since a 2001 US -led invasion. Officials now worry that any move to withdraw US 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.

The talks in Abu Dhabi earlier this week, with peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad leading the USA side, were also attended by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.

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The latest talks between the Taliban and US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad focused on the withdrawal of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops, the release of prisoners and halting attacks on civilians by pro-government forces.

U.S. President Donald Trump considers the war in Afghanistan a lost cause and has long pushed to pull the troops out.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday told reporters in the central city of Multan that the decision is good for ongoing peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and the U.S.

"Considering the decision as a serious USA 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.

If the few thousand foreign troops that advise, train & assist, leave it will not affect our security, in the past four & half years our security is completely in the hands of Afghans and the final goal is that ANDSF will stand on their feet to protect & defend soil on their own. The troops routinely complain about reinforcements that arrive too late, equipment that fails and even running out of food.

The already worsening security situation in Afghanistan is likely to be exacerbated by a USA troop reduction, according to analysts. Their ouster of the Taliban returned to power former warlords, whose bitter infighting and runaway corruption had resulted in vast tracts of the capital Kabul being destroyed and given rise to the Taliban, who used a strict and harsh interpretation of Islam to restore calm to the country. Afghans complain bitterly about their deeply corrupt government and see the US which largely bankrolls the government as responsible.

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