US Reduces Forces in Afghanistan to 8,600

The US are upholding the US-Taliban agreement over troop withdrawals, but prisoner releases remain a contentious point that could endanger progress.

  • By externalwire | June 20, 2020,12:59 pm
US Reduces Forces in Afghanistan to 8,600

The United States had reduced its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600, Marine General Frank McKenzie reported on June 18. The significant draw-down of military forces comes as part of a US-Taliban agreement signed in February that intends to reduce US involvement in the country. The deal requires a full withdrawal of US military forces by May 2021 as the Afghan government negotiates its own agreement with the Taliban.

Barriers to peace

“The war has no winner. All of us are losers in a war. The winner of peace will be the people of Afghanistan and our neighbors,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told the Atlantic Council on June 11 as the conflict Afghanistan enters a new phase. But questions remain over the potential success of negotiations between Taliban and the government, which is losing power because of the US withdrawal and cuts of roughly $1 billion in US support.

“Devastated and ravaged by war, Afghanistan has continually suffered due to weak political dispensations and inadequate state resources, mainly due to infighting among the rulers of Afghanistan,” Ghani told the Atlantic Council.

Conditions

While the US has now met its conditions of the agreement, the Afghan government’s reluctance to release the “most dangerous” Taliban prisoners has received support from the government’s western partners, potentially endangering future peace talks. “There are some dangerous Taliban fighters named in the list, and releasing them is literally crossing a red line,” a senior European diplomat told Reuters.

Large-scale prisoner releases were part of the US-Taliban agreement, but many fear they endanger the balance of power between the government and the Taliban. While many prisoners have already been released, those involved in organizing suicide attacks on civilians remain in Afghani prisons.

Disagreement

“The United States continues to be encouraged by the great progress on prisoners release by both sides. We support additional releases by both sides to get the issue off the table,” a spokesman of the US military said. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid agreed as the Taliban continues to insist all 5,000 prisoners are released before peace talks can commence.

The Taliban says their list of 5,000 prisoners to be released as part of the agreement include no high-profile fighters involved in attacks, disputing government and NATO claims. “There are no such people, these are just excuses to create barriers against the peace process,” Mujahid told Reuters.

The US appears confident that the Taliban will no longer pose the threat to the US that led to the 2001 invasion of the country. “Conditions would have to be met that satisfy us — that attacks against our homeland are not going to be generated from Afghanistan,” General McKenzie stressed.

Related Articles

US Burns With Anti-Racism Rage One Week After George Floyd’s Murder
US Burns With Anti-Racism Rage One Week After George Floyd’s Murder

Protestors chanting “I can’t breathe” and “George Floyd, say his name” filled the streets of Minneapolis, New York, Boston, Washington, Los Angeles, and 135 other cities around the US. Protests in cities like Phoenix and Albuquerque remained peaceful, while others turned violent, resulting in vandalism, burnt-out buildings, looting, and a heavy-handed police response.

Saudi Arabia Uses Warning Shots to Rebuff Iranian Boats
Saudi Arabia Uses Warning Shots to Rebuff Iranian Boats

Three Iranian boats sailing in arch-rival Saudi Arabia’s waters ignored warnings and refused to respond to Border Guards instructions on June 25, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday night.  

Has Saudi-Arabia Won the Oil Price War?
Has Saudi-Arabia Won the Oil Price War?

With American shale gas in trouble and Saudi market share at a 40-year high, it appears the risky Saudi gamble has paid off.

US Signals Potential Renewed Involvement in Libya
US Signals Potential Renewed Involvement in Libya

Countering Russian involvement, the US is considering deploying troops to Tunisia.