Afghans, diplomats surprised by report of Trump plan to pull out troops

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"If they withdraw from Afghanistan it will not have a security impact because in the last four and half years the Afghans have been in full control", presidential spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri said via social media.

"I think it's fair to say Americans will remain on the ground after the physical defeat of the caliphate, until we have the pieces in place to ensure that that defeat is enduring", McGurk told reporters on December 11.

Tuesday was also the day Trump told the Pentagon he wanted to pull all United States forces out of Syria. While this appears like a decision which has a potential to return the 1990s situation back in Afghanistan, fortunately, regional states such as China, Russia, Iran, and Pakistan are much more prepared and invested to make sure that Kabul doesn't simply implode.

US officials are currently engaged in talks with the Taliban, who now control a significant amount of territory.

Reports of the Afghanistan pullout come on the same day that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced he was resigning from the Trump administration in February.

The drawdown, which was first reported Thursday evening by the Wall Street Journal, will remove roughly 7,000 American service members from Afghanistan.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted on Thursday that he had just returned from Afghanistan, where ISIS is still a threat and local forces are unable defeat the terrorist group.

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Three US presidents have pledged to bring peace to Afghanistan, either by adding or withdrawing troops, by engaging the Taliban or shunning them, and by struggling to combat widespread corruption in the government. Afghans complain bitterly about their deeply corrupt government and see the US - which largely bankrolls the government - as responsible. The number of Afghan civilians killed in United States and Afghan airstrikes has risen sharply this year as Western-backed forces have stepped up aerial operations with the aim of forcing the Taliban to agree to peace talks.

Mohammad Taqi, a Florida-based political analyst, told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that a rapid US withdrawal would be "a huge mistake".

But there was no sign the Taliban were ready to move on the two major sticking points: Direct talks with the Afghan government and a cease fire while the two sides negotiate Khalilzad's so-called "roadmap for the future of Afghanistan".

The House of Representatives plans to vote in January on a new War Powers Resolution introduced by California Rep. Ro Khanna that would effectively end us military intervention on behalf of Saudi Arabia in the Yemeni civil war.

"A US military drawdown without a well thought out strategy behind it and without concerted efforts with internal and regional stakeholders could further exacerbate the conflict in the country and intensify competition among regional stakeholders", Mir says, referring to countries that have been accused of providing support to the Taliban, including Pakistan, Iran, and Russian Federation.

The talks in Abu Dhabi earlier this week, with peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad leading the USA side, were also attended by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.

The U.A.E. hailed the talks as "positive for all parties concerned", while the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Khalid bin Salman, claimed the meetings will produce "very positive results by the beginning of next year".

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