Even after 20 years of US troop presence in Afghanistan and a far longer period of conflict and uncertainty, Afghanistan’s future is still not secure. President Donald Trump has been...
Even after 20 years of US troop presence in Afghanistan and a far longer period of conflict and uncertainty, Afghanistan’s future is still not secure. President Donald Trump has been indicating for weeks that he is eager to pull all American troops out of the country before November this year when the presidential campaign gets fully underway. Trump obviously sees a complete withdrawal as a possible winning slogan for a campaign which is in some trouble. But a violation of the agreement reached with the Taliban in Doha in February this year of a phased withdrawal spread out over 14 months would leave Afghanistan in an extremely precarious situation. The intelligence reports of Russian attacks on the US military simply add to the complications in a country that has almost forgotten what peace and normalcy look like. There are now just over 8000 US troops in Afghanistan, and Pentagon officials who have urged President Trump not to speed up the withdrawal continue talks with the White House. There is a very real possibility that Trump may disregard advice and order an immediate pullout.
The problem is that in this scenario the people of Afghanistan would be left ignored. The elected Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani has limited control over the country. The Taliban hold large swathes of territory across the country but are themselves under pressure from the IS which is said to be moving rapidly into the war-torn country. Afghan warlords continue to play their own games to maximize control.
The reality is that policies pursued by the US and its allies put Afghanistan in the miserable situation it faces today. It is therefore the duty of Washington and other Western powers to ensure that they leave Afghanistan in a stable situation. Power must be transferred fully to the people of Afghanistan and not to any other agents supported by external forces or those that work against the interests of the Afghans. The people of the country have suffered endlessly. Afghanistan cannot be left in this situation indefinitely. The US must work to find a way to offer a lasting peace to its people and also hand back control over Afghanistan that it snatched away many decades ago. It is this factor that must top priorities and President Trump has to be made aware of the US’s responsibilities in this respect.