For Afghans, US troops ‘home by Christmas’ is gift to the Taliban – By Scott Peterson (CS Monitor) / Nov 20 2020
To see how the U.S. political calendar affects the world, look to Afghanistan. President Trump’s decision to hasten the troop withdrawal has raised alarms: in NATO, and among Afghans seeking peace with the Taliban.
An American gift to the Afghan Taliban that portends more war and less peace?
That is how President Donald Trump’s sudden decision this week to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan is seen by Afghan government negotiators at stalled peace talks in Doha, Qatar – even as Taliban insurgents talk peace but continue the fight.
Prior to the presidential election Nov. 3, Mr. Trump tweeted that all American troops, including those in Afghanistan, who are serving as part of a NATO force, should be “home by Christmas!”
Then, a week after the president fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who opposed the drawdown, the Pentagon announced Nov. 17 that the remaining 4,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan would be cut to 2,500 by Jan. 15 – five days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
For Afghans, it’s the latest example of how American political timelines can affect their own battlespace – sometimes with deleterious effects – as the war has ground on since the U.S. toppled the Taliban and its Al Qaeda “guests” in late 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks.