Is the Withdrawal of American Troops from Afghanistan a Grave Mistake ?

In 2001 after the attack of the World Trade Center, the Bush administration declared the war on terror by waging war in Afghanistan to topple the Taliban government in Kabul. The US-led invasion of Afghanistan and war against Taliban have left thousands of Afghans dead and injured, but the 12 years later the new government of President Barack Obama announced that the U.S was no longer continuing the war on terror, indicating that American would leave Afghanistan soon. Although the war ended, Taliban insurgency has never stopped its terror attacks against civilians and security personnel.

Despite fighting alongside with American troops to destroy Taliban fighters, the cooperation between the two nations has become stagnant in the recent years, particularly during the last term of president Hamid Karzai since he wanted the American and other foreign troops to get out of his country. To show his dissatisfaction with the presence of American troops and its allies’ troops, Karzai did not sign the new security pact with U.S government last year.

Actually, the withdrawal of troops doesn’t mean America loses the war in Afghanistan, but Obama administration just focuses on the death of American troops in foreign battlefields and the big waste of money in the war. As the matter of fact is that the U.S has spent more than 6 trillion dollars and most importantly around 20 thousand of American forces have been killed in the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, the newly elected president of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani is seeking for a chance to strengthen the strained security cooperation with the US, hoping that Obama will revise his decision to slow down the phase of troop withdrawal. The improvement of the U.S-Afghan ties will surely contribute to the revision of the 2017 exit plan of president Obama. But at the same time Ghani has committed himself to fulfill the demand of Taliban for the departure of foreign combat forces from Afghanistan.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani​ and CEO Abdullah Abdullah paid their five day visit to United States in late March, aiming to bolster the relationship with the U.S. During the visit, the Afghan president was invited to give the address to a join meeting of the the U.S Congress. While addressing to the meeting, President Ashraf Ghani claimed his government would welcome the Taliban to join the peace talks. “The third initiative is our push for National reconciliation. The Taliban need to choose not to be Al Qaeda and to be afghans. If they choose to be Afghans, they will be welcome to be part of the fabric of our society,” he said.

Ganhi believes there are still rooms for the talks between his government and the Taliban to end the decade-long bloodiest war in the country. He also indicates that the push for the national reconciliation by bringing all parties to the negotiation table should be one of the solutions.

The two leader of government of Afghanistan also requested the Barack Obama administration to take into account the adjustment of the plan to pull out all American troops from Afghanistan. As planned, the U.S and NATO troops have to be fully withdrawn from the Afghan soil in the late 2016.

Having discussed with Afghan leaders, president Obama decided to change his plan, announcing to keep the current level of troops stationing in Afghanistan until the end of 2016. Although the plan has been changed, there will be no effect on the peace building in this war-torn country. The decision made by president Obama to remove all combat troops from Afghanistan gets a lot of criticisms indicating the irresponsibility of the U.S in supporting and seeking for peace for Afghans.

The exit of foreign troops would leave the country with uncertainty, having the fragile security and stability in the country, which have been severely threatened by the Taliban militias. And Afghan people have to be responsible for their own future. It is warned that the future of Afghanistan will not be different from Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The withdrawal of American troops would surely become the nightmare for Afghan people, and American government should also learn from its mistakes it made in Iraq.

With regards to the pulling out of troops from Afghanistan, it remains doubtful if the Afghan government is well prepared to combat against the insurgency and protect its civilians without U.S ‘s supports or to resume the peace negotiations with Taliban leaders.Thus, to avoid the grave mistake, the U.S has to make sure that it already puts all its effort to help train local forces before the troops leave and keep supporting the government of Afghanistan to pursue peace. Additionally, the U.S should also try to support the peace talks between the conflicting parties, making sure that the peace agreement will be brokered. Without making Afghan forces technically and physically strong and brokering the peace agreement between Afghan government and insurgents, U.S’s exit is really a mistake.
 However, recently the questions have been raised for the future peace talks between the two sides after Taliban fighters have stirred up attacks against civilians and government forces across the country. More severely, Taliban militias just took over some districts in Northern province Kunduz, and they have also been intensifying the fighting into the Southern Helmand province. The intensified attacks by Taliban really threaten the effort of the Kabul government which already opened the door for Taliban leaders to sit and talk.

Originally published at on March 21, 2016.

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