Donald Trump promised to bring US troops home during the 2016 election campaign. Now that his days in the White House are numbered, he seems to want to keep his word. Leading Republicans warn.
The incumbent US President Donald Trump wants to further reduce the number of US troops abroad before the end of his term in January according to media reports. Commanders were preparing for an order to reduce the number of soldiers in Afghanistan from currently around 4,500 to around 2,500 by January 15, the broadcaster CNN reported on Monday, before more media followed suit. The White House referred to the Pentagon upon request. There, too, there was initially no confirmation for the reports. Leading Republicans in the US Congress warned against hasty action.
Trump’s term ends on January 20th. The Democrat Joe Biden emerged victorious from the presidential election on November 3rd.
According to the reports, Trump is expected to command further cuts in soldiers in Iraq. According to CNN, 3,000 US soldiers are still deployed there. Trump had already announced a reduction in troop strength in Iraq from 5,200 to 2,000 men in September. The New York Times reported, citing a draft order, that almost all of the more than 700 soldiers stationed in Somalia were to leave the country.
Personalrochade im Pentagon
During the 2016 election campaign, the Republican had promised to bring US troops home. Almost four weeks before this year’s election, he surprisingly announced on Twitter that the soldiers remaining in Afghanistan should be back in the USA by Christmas. Leading advisors in the military and national security advised against it, so that the president finally agreed to a smaller reduction, reported the New York Times, citing government officials who were not named.
Shortly after his loss to Biden – which Trump has still not admitted – the incumbent dismissed Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Other management positions were also filled. For example, former Army officer Douglas Macgregor has been appointed Senior Advisor to Executive Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller. Macgregor is an outspoken critic of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Apparently, after consultations with leading military officials in November, Esper spoke out against a further withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, since the necessary conditions had not yet been met, including with regard to the security situation. The Washington Post first reported a confidential letter to the White House at the weekend, and CNN confirmed the report on Monday.
The USA signed an agreement with the militant Islamist Taliban at the end of February that promises the gradual withdrawal of all US and NATO armed forces by the end of 2021. In return, the Taliban committed, among other things, to peace talks with the Afghan government, which began in September. However, the process had recently stalled.
Warnings from within their own ranks about Trump’s plans
Leading Republicans in the US Congress warned against a premature withdrawal from the country. “There is no American who does not wish that the war in Afghanistan against terrorists and their helpers had already been finally won. But that does not change the actual decision that lies before us,” said the majority leader in the US Senate, Mitch McConnell. “A quick withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan would harm our allies and please the people who wish us harm.”
The people in Afghanistan are still affected by violence, said McConnell. The Taliban did not adhere to the terms of the so-called peace treaty. McConnell explicitly praised Trump for his successes in the fight against terrorism in Iraq and Syria, which a hasty withdrawal could, however, undo.
The highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, warned in a statement: “A hasty US withdrawal would not only jeopardize the Afghan government’s ability to negotiate, it would also jeopardize US interests in the fight against terrorism.”
The US Senator Marco Rubio warned that any plan to reduce the US troop strength in Afghanistan must ensure that military equipment does not end up in the hands of the Taliban or Al-Qaeda. In addition, the US must continue to be able to take action against leaders of the terrorist network Al-Qaeda.
The war in Afghanistan is the longest in US history. American soldiers have been in the country since 2001. After the attacks of September 11th of that year, US-led troops marched in there. For almost two decades, Islamists in Afghanistan have been fighting for the withdrawal of international troops.