Taliban welcomes partial USA withdrawal from Afghanistan

Taliban welcomes partial USA withdrawal from Afghanistan

Kerry Wise
December 23, 2018

Peace talks aside, the announced withdrawal has Afghan generals and analysts anxious about the ability of the beleaguered Afghan National Afghan Security Force to stave off a Taliban insurgency unfettered by United States troops and their pounding air power.

Pakistan's foreign minister has welcomed President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw half the U.S.'s troops from Afghanistan.

"I believe the Taliban will see this as a reason to stall, and therefore it disincentivizes the Taliban to actually talk to the Afghan government, which it has refused to do", said Bill Roggio an Afghanistan analyst with the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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. The U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation retreated into a training and advising role. Following the U.S. announcement of withdrawing half of its 14000 troops stationed in Afghanistan, a Taliban official was quoted by media as saying: "Frankly speaking, we weren't expecting that immediate USA response. we are more than happy".

Qureshi says Pakistan welcomes the peace discussions that took place earlier this week in Abu Dhabi and will continue to support the Afghan peace process. Three U.S. presidents have pledged to bring peace to Afghanistan, either by adding or withdrawing troops, by engaging the Taliban or shunning them, and by struggling to combat widespread corruption in the government.

US troops stormed into Afghanistan in November 2001 in an invasion triggered by the September 11 attacks.

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Peace talks aside, the announced withdrawal has Afghan generals and analysts anxious about the ability of the beleaguered Afghan National Afghan Security Force to stave off a Taliban insurgency unfettered by USA troops and their pounding air power.

"We expect that things will move further".

Trump's reported decision apparently surprised Afghan officials, even though the US president had previously voiced opposition to the USA war effort there.

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

President Ghani's administration said Friday that the government yielded to demands of Afghans in forming a national consensus on peace, yet the rebel movement was adamant on fighting. "Diplomacy gets harder when the White House fails to coordinate with other branches of government and close US allies".

A Taliban official told The Associated Press the announcement was a positive step.