Published: Sun, December 23, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

US troop withdrawal is a blow to morale: Afghan generals

US troop withdrawal is a blow to morale: Afghan generals

The Taliban are already stronger today than they have been since their ouster in 2001, controlling or holding sway over almost half the country.

The withdrawal of the USA of troops from Afghanistan is Pakistan's diplomatic victory in the region and Kabul where the beleaguered government has been struggling to get a stronghold against the growing might of Taliban insurgents.

"A USA military drawdown without a well thought out strategy behind it and without concerted efforts with internal and regional stakeholders could further exacerbate the conflict in the country and intensify competition among regional stakeholders", Mir says, referring to countries that have been accused of providing support to the Taliban, including Pakistan, Iran, and Russian Federation.

But the Taliban said the withdrawal could in fact assist peace efforts by helping to build trust. The US is by far the biggest and most influential member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. 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".

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

US troops invaded Afghanistan in November 2001 in response to the September 11 attacks.

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 US troops and their pounding air power.

"We expect that things will move further".

"This signals to the Taliban that the U.S.is serious about negotiating an exit", says Smith, adding that it would erode the militant's skepticism that Washington is open to withdrawing from Afghanistan.

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

"The sudden decision has come as a shock", an Afghan official, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, told RFE/RL. Nearly 17,000 troops from 39 nations take part in NATO's Resolute Support mission helping to train and mentor Afghan security forces.

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.

A Taliban official said the announcement is a positive step which could "lead to trust building that the United States wants a political solution".

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