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article imageTrump to announce withdrawal of 4,000 troops from Afghanistan

By Ken Hanly     Dec 16, 2019 in Politics
White House officials claim that President Trump is set to announce that 4,000 US troops will leave Afghanistan over the next few months. The Afghan government in turn has confirmed this to be the case,
The announcement
NBC News reports: "The Trump administration intends to announce the drawdown of about 4,000 troops from Afghanistan as early next week, according to three current and former U.S. officials. The withdrawal will leave between 8,000 and 9,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the officials said."
Withdrawal could come with no peace deal with the Taliban
The withdrawal could happen without any peace deal as the US has paused the talks for now: "The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan said Thursday he was outraged by a Taliban attack near Bagram Airfield this week, and "we’re taking a brief pause," apparently in reference to peace talks that had recently resumed with the militant group."When I met the Talibs today, I expressed outrage about yesterday’s attack on Bagram, which recklessly killed two and wounded dozens of civilians," Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, tweeted."
Trump may want troop reduction before 2020 election
Many say that Trump wants to have a troop reduction before the 2020 election as he thinks it will help his campaign. In his campaign for the presidency Trump had suggested that the US should withdraw entirely from Afghanistan. Quite a few no doubt would have hoped that any withdrawal would be part of a deal with the Taliban to end the war. However, the US has so far failed to accept any deal and appears to be delaying the completion of any deal.
US says war can continue with reduced troop numbers
US officials claim that they have confidence that the war can continue even with less troops. Given that the US is mostly using airstrikes at present the officials may be correct However, they may not be enough to stop the Taliban from advancing control of areas let alone defeating them.
Trump claims that US is staying in Syria for the oil
The 8,000 to 9,000 remaining troops could be sufficient to guard the oil wells. Trump claims the US is staying in Syria for the oil. The Guardian reports:“We want to bring our soldiers home. But we did leave soldiers because we’re keeping the oil,” he said on 1 November. “I like oil. We’re keeping the oil.”The president suggested that taking possession of Syrian natural resources would be fair “reimbursement” for the cost of going to war there."
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