US to withdraw 7,000 troops from Afghanistan by Feb ’19

Washington: The Pentagon on Thursday (local time) announced the withdrawal of around 7,000 troops from Afghanistan, amounting to the removal of half of the total US forces deployed in the country at present.

A US defence official told the New York Times that the decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan was taken to ensure that the Afghan military could become self-reliant in the coming days and does not depend on any Western government in order to stabilise security in the country.

However, officials fear that this decision would adversely affect the Afghan military that has already suffered losses due to casualties in Taliban-orchestrated attacks.

“If we left precipitously right now, I do not believe they would be able to successfully defend their country,” Lieutenant General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. of the Marines told Pentagon.
I don’t know how long it’s going to take. I think that one of the things that would actually provide the most damage to them would be if we put a timeline on it and we said we were going out at a certain point in time.”

For the past several years, Washington has been trying to persuade the Taliban to come to the negotiating table and formulate a peace process to end the 17-year-old conflict in Afghanistan. However, the group asserted that the presence of foreign troops in the war-torn nation was a hindrance to achieving long-lasting peace.

On December 19, US attended a peace talk with the Taliban in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which was aimed at putting an end to the long-drawn war in Afghanistan.