US Senator Calls For Hearings On Troops In Afghanistan, Syria

US Senator Calls For Hearings On Troops In Afghanistan, Syria

The Taliban has welcomed news of the U.S. plan to withdraw half its troops from Afghanistan by the summer, as Afghan generals warned it would be a blow to the morale of the country's beleaguered security forces.

After deciding this week to withdraw USA troops from Syria, President Donald Trump may also pull thousands of soldiers from Afghanistan - a possibility that's already drawn a response from Afghan officials.

The United States has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan working either with a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission to support Afghan forces or in separate counter-terrorism operations.

This Fox News National Security Correspondent says morale at the Defense Dept. has never been worse.

But Haroon Chakansuri, spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said the withdrawal would not affect overall security because the role of USA forces has been to assist and advise Afghan troops.

U.S. Marines stand guard during the change of command ceremony at Task Force Southwest military field in Shorab military camp of Helmand province, Afghanistan.

The government faces continued threats from the highest regional concentration of terrorist groups in the world, the report said, and while its air force has improved considerably under guidance from foreign forces, its army struggles to meet recruiting, quality and leadership standards. The U.S. -supported Afghan government has control of about 65 percent of the country.

FILE - Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani (R) and US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad (L), meet in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 10, 2018. A spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani said "if there is any reaction by the Afghan government, we will share it later". More than 2,400 American soldiers have also died in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion.

Of course Trump should withdraw troops from Syria — and everywhere else for that matter

But a withdrawal could be good if it ultimately results in the Taliban entering productive peace talks, said Shahla Farid, a law and political science professor at Kabul University. There are many within the Taliban who oppose negotiations and advocate waiting out Washington's patience and money. Both sides described the dialogue as productive and promised to meet again in the Gulf country. He told Trump in a letter that he was departing because "you have a right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours".

"Our goal is not to have permanent military bases in Afghanistan".

The Wall Street Journal reported that more than 7,000 troops would be returning from Afghanistan.

Trump is acting to pull all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria and has now declared victory over Daesh, contradicting his own experts' assessments.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who recently returned from Kabul, warned in a series of tweets Islamic State's Afghan affiliate, or ISIS-K remains a direct threat to the US and the terrorist group would "dramatically" benefit from a reduced American troop presence.

A USA withdrawal now will lead to the emergence of al-Qaida "version 2.0", said Saleh, who is viewed as a hardliner against the Taliban and Pakistan, which has always been accused of supporting the militants.

The news came hours after Trump's point man for the peace process, Zalmay Khalilzad, visited Kabul and said the US was prepared to continue to fight to ensure Afghanistan didn't again become a haven for al-Qaida and other extremists who were once sheltered by a Taliban government.

It is clear that the current US administration does not have the appetite or endurance to see through a political end to the war that would avoid this. "Doubtful the Taliban will reciprocate with its own concession", Kugelman tweeted.

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