Troops Pull Out May Derail Successful Peace Talks with Taliban: Pentagon Assessment

US defense officials submitted an annual assessment of the Afghan war to the US Congress on Thursday which states “The reinforcement and realignment of U.S. and coalition forces and authorities under the South Asia Strategy have significantly increased pressure on the Taliban.”

The Washington Times reported about the assessment by the US officials and informed that the assessment believes that all “recent gains by U.S. and Afghan forces under the Trump administration’s South Asia strategy could be in jeopardy if Washington presses ahead with plans to slash the number of American troops in Afghanistan by half”.

The US Defense Department analysts have suggested that any decline in efforts to up the pressure against the Taliban-like what could be an order of President Trump to withdraw troops from Afghanistan- could ‘derail’ efforts to secure peace talks with the insurgent group.

President Trump’s decision last year to send an additional 3,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan as part of his South Asia strategy “stabilized the situation in Afghanistan, slowing the momentum of a Taliban march that had capitalized on U.S. drawdowns between 2011 and 2016,” the analysts wrote, adding that “the key to success remains sustained military pressure against the Taliban” by Afghan forces backed by the nearly 14,000 U.S. services members still in country.

“Convincing the Taliban that they cannot win on the battlefield, and credibly committing to a conditions based strategy” under the South Asia plan, Kabul and Washington “have greatly increased the odds of concluding a settlement” to bring America’s longest war to an end, they said.

The US president according to media sources in US has reportedly decided to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan at the same time White House officials opted to pull out all 2,000 U.S. service members assisting local forces battling the Islamic State in Syria.

The decision has been met somewhat negative reactions. So far only Pakistan has commented in a positive light to the decision.
There has been no response from Russia or Iran as of now.

However European countries, US’s key allies who have their own troops in Afghanistan are worried and alarmed with the decision.

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