To Save Afghan Peace Deal, U.S. May Scale Back C.I.A. Presence

The United States is considering pulling back front-line C.I.A. personnel from bases in Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials, as part of the American government’s effort to further reduce violence in the country in the wake of its landmark peace agreement with the Taliban.

As per the New York Times report, the deliberations over the C.I.A. presence in the country are part of larger discussions about pulling back international forces to push forward the peace plan, which shows signs of floundering amid continuing violence.

Top Taliban leaders have demanded reductions in the C.I.A. presence in the country alongside U.S. troops, something that until now American negotiators have resisted. There are thought to be several hundred C.I.A. officers and contractors in Afghanistan, a number that fluctuates often, and it is perceived as one of the agency’s largest presences outside of the Washington area.

Yet one plan, lobbied by Trump administration officials in September, actually included increasing the C.I.A. presence in the country as American forces pulled out.

C.I.A. personnel operate in various places around the country, advising militia groups. The operations began as part of an effort to hunt Al Qaeda, in the earlier years of the now 18-year war, before shifting to targeting organizations including thet Haqqani Taliban, among the most violent groups in Afghanistan and a significant source of income for the Taliban.

One move being discussed would relocate agency personnel to the embassy in Kabul, enabling some level of American advice to militia groups operating under the oversight of Afghanistan’s intelligence service. Officials cautioned that deliberations continued and various plans were under consideration.
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