Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Trump’s Withdrawal Plan Marks His Failure in Afghanistan

Regarding terrorism, the US President Donald Trump said in his inaugural speech that “we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth”. Exactly two years later, he said in a meeting with Pakistan’s Imran Khan that “Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth” if he wanted to win the war.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the then General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, called the war in Afghanistan “the bleeding wound” and sought a negotiated settlement to the conflict to facilitate an orderly withdrawal of the Soviet Union forces.
The remarks of Trump and Gorbachev regarding the war in Afghanistan triggered public backlash and were highly outrageous to Afghans’ collective conscience. Neither of the two could put an end to the decades of conflict in the country. The withdrawal of former Soviet forces moved the country to a bloody civil unrest and paved the ground for the emergence of the Taliban. On the other hand, Trump signed a peace deal with the Taliban leadership to facilitate the withdrawal of US troops and reiterated the drawdown recently.
With this in mind, Afghans are concerned about the Trump’s deal with the Taliban group, which has held out against reduction in violence and declaration of ceasefire. Both the people of Afghanistan and regional and global stakeholders aired their concern about a vacuum likely to emerge after the US troop pullout. The public worries will be compounded in the wake of the Taliban’s maintained ties with al-Qaeda network, which is a violation of the deal signed with Washington in late February.
If Trump focuses on his commitment made to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan regardless of the ongoing violence and futility of peace talks, it will be a political blunder since the Taliban would maintain their ties with international terrorist groups and intensify their attacks against the Kabul administration. Therefore, Afghan officials and regional stakeholders reiterate condition-based pullout. It is believed that if US forces withdraw from the country despite the Taliban’s violation of the deal and escalation in militancy, the US future administration is likely to face challenges and review its policy regarding Afghanistan’s issues. Trump had better review the drawdown plan and listen to the advices and suggestions of foreign experts on the ground as well as Afghan political figures. A more realistic approach is needed to be adopted about the country so that the treasure and blood invested within the last two decades will not be in vain.
It is self-explanatory that Trump’s predecessors, who had strong political backgrounds, could withdraw the US forces from Afghanistan years ago, however, it would move the country to further conflict. Trump’s complete-eradication-from-the-surface-of-earth policy has been no more than a political bragging. Ironically, he promoted the Taliban from a terrorist group to that of a political and delisted their leaders from the UN blacklist and achieved the UN endorsement for the agreement his administration signed with the Taliban. The fact is that sitting in the Oval Office is far different from being on the ground.
Regional and global stakeholders also warn against the hasty withdrawal reiterated by Trump. The US outgoing President should leave a horrible legacy neither for the next US administration nor for Afghanistan. He gave many concessions to the Taliban leadership but the conflict did not come to an end in the country.
Afghans disapprove of Trump’s policy since he, despite giving concessions to the Taliban, could not find out a solution to the ongoing conflict. His administration turns a blind eye to the Taliban’s intensified attacks against Afghan soldiers and civilians. He insists on troop drawdown in spite of the unpredictable outcome of the intra-Afghan dialogue underway in Doha.
If the Taliban continue dishonoring their deal with the White House through maintaining ties with the international terrorist groups and refusing to declare ceasefire, troop drawdown will be highly perilous. In such a case, the Taliban are likely to declare victory and would not stop conflict. Thus, the Trump administration will be the loser and condemned by US future leaders.
In short, if Trump does not act cautiously, the mistake of former Soviet Union may be repeated and Afghanistan will fall in civil war. If Afghanistan, dubbed “the heart of Asia”, is in turmoil and tension, regional and global states are unlikely to be immune to the spillover. Afghanistan’s conflict has to come to an end and the US and its international allies should not leave the country in the lurch.