A US Marine (C) talks with Afghan National Army soldiers during a training in Helmand province, Afghanistan. File/Reuters
Gulf Today Report
President Donald Trump pledged to end conflicts abroad as the US will slash troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq to their lowest levels in nearly 20 years of war, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.
Trump will sharply reduce the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January, stopping short of a threatened full withdrawal from America’s longest war after fierce opposition from allies at home and abroad, the Pentagon announced.
Trump’s decision to limit himself to a partial withdrawal was first reported by Reuters on Monday but still triggered a rebuke from senior Republicans and Democrats who fear it will undermine security and hurt fragile peace talks with the Taliban.
Rejecting concerns that precipitous drawdowns could give up all the US has fought for, Acting Defence Secretary Chris Miller said around 2,000 troops would be pulled out of Afghanistan by January 15.
About the same time, the top Senate Republican, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, cautioned against any major changes in US defence or foreign policy in the next couple of months, including any precipitous troop drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
US President Donald Trump attends an event. File photo
“It is extremely important here in the next couple of months not to have any earthshaking changes in regard to defence or foreign policy,” McConnell, who opposed a pullout, told reporters.
President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman Sediq Sediqqi confirmed in a tweet that Ghani and Miller had spoken on the phone about "continued meaningful US military support to the Afghan Security and Defence Forces".
Five hundred more would come back from Iraq by the same date, leaving 2,500 in each country.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani poses for a photograph.
The moves reflect Trump's policy "to bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a successful and responsible conclusion and to bring our brave service members home," Miller said.
Miller said the US had met its goals, set in 2001 after the Al Qaeda attacks on the United States, to defeat extremists and to help "local partners and allies to take the lead in the fight."
"With the blessings of Providence in the coming year, we will finish this generational war and bring our men and women home," he said.
President Joe Biden’s newly appointed national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, spoke with his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib and “made clear the United States’ intention to review” the deal, National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said.
Afghanistan “would be gone. It would be over in literally, in 10 days,” Trump said, adding, “I don’t want to go that route” and that he didn’t want to kill millions.
Observers believe that the nearly 18-year conflict will be the major focus of talks between Khan and President Donald Trump when they meet on July 22.
Imran Khan has decided to set another record by contesting all the 33 seats of the National Assembly by competing the by-elections on seats, which got vacated after his party members' resignations.
“The decision stems from our belief in enhancing flexibility, competitiveness and ease of business for private sector companies and safeguarding all parties’ rights,” the Ministry said.
I was informed that my brother Abdulrahman had gone missing since dawn on Friday at 2:30. He went out for a walk near a lake with his cousin, after they finished visiting his brother, but Abdulrahman went to a toilet next to the lake and did not return.”
The blast took place at the mosque where a large number of people had gathered for prayer, police official Sikandar Khan said. "A portion of the building had collapsed and several people are believed to be under it," Khan added.