Will US really withdraw troops from Afghanistan?

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By

Raja Furqan Ahmed

After the 9/11 attacks, the United State of America has been fighting the longest war ever in its history in Afghanistan to eliminate the threat from the soil but the US and its allies have not been successful to defeat their enemies. The bush administration declares the war of terror after the 9/11 attacks of Al-Qaeda in America. Later on, the war changes the dimension due to the political changes.

President Bush started the war of terror and during his two terms, he was more focused on the offensive strategy. In his tenure, he also opens the new front such as the Iraq invasion which affects the Afghan war. Kabul policies, as well as the political decision, were decided in Washington. Later on, the Barack Obama administration emphasizes the military used but he also provides the gateway to the Taliban for opening the office in Doha, Qatar. There were more than 100,000 American troops present in Afghanistan during that time.

On 18 June 2013 Taliban opened there first ever office and announced its willingness to open peace talks with US officials. It took more than two years for Negotiations over the opening of the office but it was also Obama administration success that the Taliban’s who were initially not ready for talks come and sit in the office for the negotiations. After the trump came into power the war shifted from the military perspective to the table talks and negotiations.

Recently, the Political reshuffle in the US has raised many questions about the future US policy towards the global. 78-year-old Joe Biden who defeated incumbent President Donald Trump in 2020 US presidential election. It was predicted that the military establishment will favour Biden because trump’s policies did not support American as they believe. During the election campaign, nearly 800 former high-rank military and security officials also write an open letter in support of Democratic candidate.

Trump also adopted a dismissive attitude towards US allies, particularly the European Union, NATO in which he imposes extra tariffs. He cut deals with nations and organization’s that benefited the US just like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Paris Agreement etc. He also opens a new conflict with china. Despite that, China has built its economic, diplomatic and military power, while the US became bogged down in endless wars and suffered an economic crisis. But the one thing Trump understands that the solution for any issue is through negotiation, dialogue’s and talks. Despite he has a different attitude toward China as compared to Afghanistan and Syrian issue. He decided to pull out the US from the Afghan war.

In US politics mainly two institutions are prominent and rival to each other. The state department who is responsible for carrying foreign policy and the defence department focusing on the matters of defence.

In Trump era, the state department has played a vital role in the Afghan conflict. The twenty-year of war which starts with the weapon now looks to end with the negotiation. Earlier this year, the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement in Doha aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan. Under the agreement, all US forces will be withdrawn by May 2021, but, in theory, only if the Taliban fulfil certain conditions which seem to have been met yet.

Despite that deal, the Afghan politicians raise their genuine concern about not taking them in confidence. They also put some hurdles for delaying the release of prisoners. Several times, the talks between the Kabul government and Taliban were suspended. Later on, In September the Long delay Intra-Afghan talks started in Doha but the process was slow down to set the terms and conditions before the formal talks begin. Currently, the terms and condition has been set between both parties and at the end of November, the official talk will start, according to sources.

The US president tweet in October that all 4,500 US troops in Afghanistan to home by Christmas shows the intention that Trump wants complete withdraw before the year-end but later on, US military officials claim that there was no actual plan to withdraw troops by Christmas.

After the trump presidential loss in the 2020 election, the policy also shifts from complete to half withdrawal. Trump is pushing to accelerate withdrawals from Afghanistan as well as Iraq and Somalia by the time he leaves office. As top military and national security aides were against that decision. Now Trump eventually agreed to the smaller drawdown. On the other side, the Taliban group appreciated trumps decision.

Due to the sudden policy shift and speed up, NATO the military alliance also raises serious concern that the price for leaving too soon or in an uncoordinated way could be very high. Afghanistan risks becoming once again a platform for international terrorists to plan and organise attacks on our homelands.

It is expected that the Pentagon will reverse the decision and send more troops or military support especially airpower when Biden officially takes the charge. As the former military officials were supporting Biden during the campaign. Many experts inside the US also believe that the conditions on the ground are not suitable for reduction in troops. There is also a threat of shifting balance of power in favour of the Taliban and other groups in troop withdrawal.

In writing’s of Biden, he said: “It is past time to end the forever wars, which have cost the United States untold blood and treasure.” He also emphasizes to bring the vast majority of troops home from the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East but now the condition is different. This can be seen as Biden in a recent interview said that he would maintain a troop presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has pressure from the military establishment to put troops in Afghan soil. Biden will try to be tougher on the Taliban, such as by threatening to delay a US troop withdrawal until violence reduce. A reduced US military presence in Afghanistan will also put Biden in a tough position. As the trump decision to withdrawal half troops so now it is expected that the remaining 2000 troops will stay there for a long time.

As a concern, the only person who is suffering from this trauma is Afghan itself. Here again, a question arises that will the US really withdraw troops from Afghanistan. The simple answer is “NO”. Firstly because this war is not looking to be ending because of a lack of serious attitude shown by the Taliban and Kabul government. Secondly, the upcoming US government policy will likely to shift as the peace process pace is moving so slow so eventually the US will extend the time frame. Due to the instability inside Afghanistan and the political crises between the multi-ethnic groups so for the success in the peace deal all the political parties should commit to being on a single page which is far difficult if we preview the afghan history.

The writer is a student of International Relations and Freelance journalist currently based in Islamabad, Pakistan. He can be reached at [email protected] or @furqanraja1122 on Twitter.