Donald Trump wants to complete US military withdrawal by Christmas

Donald Trump said Wednesday, October 7, that he would like to withdraw all the American soldiers from Afghanistan by Christmas, that is to say more quickly than envisaged by the agreement between the United States and the Taliban .

“We should get the few of our brave men and women who still serve in Afghanistan home by Christmas! “, tweeted the US president, who will seek a second term on November 3 against Democrat Joe Biden.

The Republican billionaire has been promising for years to “End endless wars”, and has never concealed that he hoped to accelerate the withdrawal as the presidential election approaches.

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Direct peace negotiations

The Trump administration pledged to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by mid-2021 at the latest in a landmark deal signed Feb. 29 with the Taliban to end America’s longest war. In return, the insurgents pledged not to allow terrorists to operate from the territories they control, and to enter into unprecedented direct peace negotiations with the government in Kabul.

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The latter began in September, several months late, and have not yet resulted in an agreement to decrease violence or even conclude a ceasefire.

Despite these meager progress, the US military has started to withdraw at the pace set out in the accord, if not faster. As of September, there were 8,600 US troops in Afghanistan, but the Pentagon had said a new phase of the withdrawal was imminent.

“Too much” violence

Donald Trump’s tweet, halfway between the presidential announcement and the campaign pledge, comes as the Doha peace talks stall. These negotiations in Qatar aim to end 19 years of war in Afghanistan but have been slowed down by disagreements over the code of conduct to be adopted in the discussions.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday called on the Taliban to “Have the courage to declare a national ceasefire” during a visit to Doha. In the meantime, violence is still raging in the country. A suicide attack targeting a provincial governor killed eight people on Monday.

US envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on Wednesday said the violence was “Too important”, while ensuring that the insurgents were “Fairly serious about negotiations”. “Many thought they weren’t going to negotiate with the Afghan government, that they just wanted an agreement on the withdrawal of American forces. But they are now at the same table ”, he argued during a video intervention at a Pearson Institute conference at the University of Chicago.

Biden in favor of withdrawal

The intervention in Afghanistan, launched in October 2001, cost the United States more than $ 1 trillion and the lives of some 2,400 American soldiers. But after quickly ousting the Taliban from power, accused of harboring Al-Qaida, the jihadist nebula responsible for the 9/11 attacks, victory was never close on the ground.

In the United States, the principle of withdrawal is increasingly shared on the right and on the left as well as in public opinion, even if a certain number of political leaders, in particular among the neoconservative republicans, warn against the risk to see terrorist groups using Afghanistan again as a base.

Joe Biden had opposed sending in reinforcements when he was Barack Obama’s vice president, but his point of view did not prevail. On his campaign site, the septuagenarian Democrat also promises to “End endless wars” and repatriate ” the large majority “ US troops from Afghanistan, while maintaining a narrow, blurred mission to counter Al-Qaida and the jihadist group Islamic State.

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The World with AFP

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