US should delay complete troop pullout in Afghanistan: Report to Congress

WASHINGTON: The United States should lengthen the May 1 deadline for pulling all its troops from Afghanistan, and make drive cuts contingent on progress in peace talks in addition to by the Taliban in lowering violence and containing al Qaeda, a bipartisan report to Congress stated on Wednesday (Feb 3).

Washington should not abandon the Afghan peace course of, the report stated. But circumstances for its success is not going to be met by a May 1 deadline set in a 2020 US-Taliban settlement. Withdrawing all US troops then could lead on to civil conflict, destabilising the area and reviving the al Qaeda menace.

The United States “should not…simply hand a victory to the Taliban,” stated the Afghanistan Study Group report, reflecting criticism that the Trump administration conceded an excessive amount of to the insurgents in a bid to finish America’s longest conflict.

READ: Afghan rivals to resume talks as civilian killings sow suspicion

Congress commissioned the group, whose co-chairs included retired Marine General Joseph Dunford, a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, and Republican former Senator Kelly Ayotte.

Dunford advised reporters the report was shared with aides to President Joe Biden, together with Zalmay Khalilzad, the peace negotiator stored on from the Trump administration, who “found it helpful”.

State Department spokesman Ned Price stated the Biden administration “plans to support” the peace course of, and is assessing the Taliban’s dedication to chopping ties to al Qaeda, reducing violence and fascinating in peace talks.

Former President Donald Trump ordered a drawdown to 2,500 US troopers by final month whilst violence surged; US officers stated the Taliban maintained ties with al Qaeda; and intra-Afghan peace talks stalled.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. security personnel stand guard during a handover ceremony of A-29 Super Tucano pla

FILE PHOTO: US safety personnel stand guard throughout a handover ceremony of A-29 Super Tucano planes from US to the Afghan forces, in Kabul, Afghanistan Sep 17, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/File Photo)

The Taliban say al Qaeda fighters are now not in Afghanistan. The Taliban even have indicated they’ll resume assaults on overseas forces if they continue to be previous May 1.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a number one Republican defence hawk who had issues with Trump’s cope with the Taliban, praised the report. He added in an announcement that after preliminary discussions with the administration, “it looks like they will be very receptive to the recommendations”.

READ: Taliban seek image revamp as Afghan peace talks grind on

Graham added: “This year marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and I will never forget how this war started. We took our eye off Afghanistan, and that can never happen again.”

US coverage should be revised to assist be sure that the peace talks in Doha between the Taliban and a delegation that features Afghan authorities officers produce a sturdy settlement, the report stated.

“Achieving the overall objective of a negotiated stable peace that meets US interests would need to begin with securing an extension of the May deadline,” stated the report, urging an “immediate” US diplomatic push to rally regional assist for a delay.

READ: Half of Afghans need humanitarian aid as violence rises: EU commissioner

An extension would let the Biden administration revise coverage, together with conditioning additional U.S. troop cuts on the Taliban lowering violence, ending cooperation with al Qaeda and progress in the Doha negotiations, the report stated.

A delay additionally would give Washington time to restructure US civilian assist and provide Kabul incentives “to play a constructive role” in peace efforts and advancing girls’s and minority rights.

The February 2020 US-Taliban deal made the US withdrawal contingent on floor circumstances and on the Taliban ending the internet hosting of al Qaeda fighters and halting the group’s “recruiting, training and fund-raising”.

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