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article imageOp-Ed: Trump claims 8,600 US troops will remain in Afghanistan

By Ken Hanly     Aug 29, 2019 in Politics
Trump claims that the US will withdraw some troops from Afghanistan. He says that once a determination has been made 8,600 troops will be left less than half the number present now. Trump said Afghanistan would remain very well controlled
Trump's statement conflicts with Taliban demands
The Taliban has always insisted as a requirement of any peace deal that all foreign troops would withdraw. However Trump has said that even if a deal is reached that the US will always keep a presence in Afghanistan. Trump's comments may make it difficult for the Taliban to accept any deal. However, some reports claim that the two sides have virtually reached agreement.
Just two days ago an article reported: "Sources at the Taliban US peace talks in Doha Qatar claim that the recent talks have worked out a peace deal for Afghanistan. The plan is to announce the deal formally in a few days. This will give the US time to brief the Afghan government on the deal."
There seems no way that retaining 8,600 troops in Afghanistan could be consistent with reaching a deal with the Taliban. However, Trump seems have no consistent position on Afghanistan as a recent Digital Journal article argues. Perhaps Trump merely wants to mollify hawks within his administration.
A possible explanation
An agreement between the US and the Taliban would be a prelude to power-sharing talks between the Afghans and the Taliban. Afghan government officials involved would do so in an unofficial personal capacity. The Taliban refuse to negotiate directly with the Afghan government since they consider it a US puppet. The US is no doubt concerned that if they withdrew all their troops immediately the Afghan government would be left open to Taliban attacks as the Afghan government is not part of the agreement with the US.
The Taliban may have agreed that the US can keep some troops in Afghanistan pending an Afghan Taliban agreement. This would perhaps explain Trump's saying 8,600 troops would remain. However, the Taliban would surely insist that when there is an Afghan Taliban agreement that all remaining foreign troops leave Afghanistan.
Military official also rejects total withdrawal for now
General Joseph Dunford, chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters that it is too early to talk of a full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan even as an agreement with the Taliban seems near if not completed. Dunford said that any US deal with the Taliban will be based upon security conditions on the ground. He said that Afghan forces need help from the US still to secure the country. Surely even with US help Afghanistan is not secure. The Taliban are continuing to constantly attack and threaten to take more territory.
Dunford said: "I'm not using the withdraw word right now. It's our judgment that the Afghans need support to deal with the level of violence in the country today."
These statements from Trump and Dunford bring into question whether there is any imminent deal with the Taliban since they are inconsistent with the continuing Taliban demand that all foreign troops must withdraw from Afghanistan for their to be any deal with them.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Afghan US relations, Afghan war, US withdrawal from Afghanistan
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