US Troops to Withdraw From Afghanistan, Taliban Welcomes Move

The announcement has been criticised by senior military officials who are in favour of a slower, methodical pullout.

2 min read
Peace in Afghanistan: US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, left, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group’s top political leader shake hands. Image used for representational purposes. 

The Pentagon announced on Wednesday, 18 November, that over 2,000 US troops will be pulled back from Afghanistan and Iraq, reported news agency AFP.

The Trump administration will be sharply reducing the American military presence in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 before Trump leaves office, and has outlined a plan to reduce troops from 3,000 to 2,500 in Iraq, reported Al Jazeera.

The Taliban has welcomed this move. In a statement to AFP, Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban said, “It is a good step and in the interest of the people of both countries.”

In nearly 20-years, this will be the lowest level of American presence in these conflict zones. US Acting Secretary of Defence Chris Miller said about 2,000 troops would be pulled out of Afghanistan by 15 January and 500 more would be called back from Iraq, leaving 2,500 in each country, reported Al Jazeera.

Miller made a statement to Al Jazeera saying that the withdrawal of troops reflect Trump’s policy to “to bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a successful and responsible conclusion and to bring our brave service members home.”


Pentagon Move Criticised By Senior Military Officials And Lawmakers

Trump fired former Defence Secretary Mark Esper, who had advised against the withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan, so the US could continue to extend support to Kabul in its peace negotiations with the Taliban, reported Al Jazeera.

The Pentagon’s announcement has been criticised by senior military officials who are in favour of a slower, methodical pullout. They believe this move may undermine “fragile security in the nation and hurt peace talks between Taliban and the Afghan government,” the report added.

Shortly after Miller’s announcement, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said to reporters on Capitol Hill, “a precipitous drawdown in either Afghanistan or Iraq is a mistake,” reported Al Jazeera.

(Inputs from AFP and Al Jazeera)

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