Political conditions in Afghanistan do not give a green signal for a U.S. military withdrawal presently, according to US General Joseph Votel.
“The political conditions, where we are in the reconciliation right now, don’t merit that,” Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel told the House Armed Services Committee.
On Thursday, Votel stressed that he has not received any orders to withdraw from Afghanistan. Votel also indicated that Afghan forces are still not to ready fight the insurgents on their own if the United States stick to the plan of withdrawing troops prior to a peace deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government. “My assessment is the Afghan forces are dependent upon the coalition support that we provide to them,” Votel said.
Although Gen Votel expressed optimism about the progress being made in the peace talks between US and Taliban he still testified that “It is a difficult problem. We are still at the front end of this. I acknowledge that, and we have a ways to go.”
Lawmakers from both parties in the US have expressed skepticism at the prospect for successful peace negotiations with the Taliban as several of them believe that the Afghan government has yet to be brought into the talks.
Votel’s testimony to the committee comes as the Trump administration’s special envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been involved in exhaustive talks with the Taliban.
As part of a plan, the Pentagon has reportedly proposed a plan that would see all U.S. troops leave Afghanistan in the next three to five years. The Taliban, though, has reportedly rejected the proposal, demanding all foreign forces leave Afghanistan within a year.
Under the reported American proposal, the United States would withdraw roughly half of its 14,000 troops in the next few months, and the remaining troops would focus on the counterterrorism mission. The train-advise-assist mission would fall to the European and Australian troops in Afghanistan.