The Yomiuri Shimbun
Afghanistan must not become a hotbed of terrorism again due to the hasty withdrawal of American forces. The U.S. government should decide in a deliberate manner.
U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed his intention to reduce the number of U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan if peace talks reach an agreement.
The administration is currently in direct negotiations with the Taliban, Afghanistan’s former ruling power. But there is no prospect of peace-making, as the Taliban has refused to hold talks with the Ghani administration as the United States has asked. President Trump’s approach seems nothing more than a wish, ignoring reality.
The president has pledged to withdraw his troops. He announced the pullout from Syria in December. He likely wants to tout an achievement to the general public, which has become more focused on domestic issues, by reducing overseas military operations that have resulted in a ballooning personnel and financial burden.
The American people are certainly becoming more exhausted with the prolonged war in Afghanistan.
The United States struck Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks in 2001 and toppled the Taliban regime, which harbored the international terrorist organization Al-Qaida.
The Obama administration expanded the number of personnel to about 100,000, but failed to defeat the Taliban. There are currently 14,000 personnel stationed there.
Boost national security
There is no way to stop law and order from deteriorating as the Taliban continues its aggression against the Ghani regime and U.S. troops. The number of government-controlled areas has decreased to 50% from 70% three years ago.
U.S. and other forces transferred full responsibility for national security to Afghan forces in 2014. The U.S. military continues to provide equipment as well as training, but clearly Afghan forces lack capabilities.
The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan could cause the Afghan government to collapse, giving momentum to Al-Qaida and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extremist militant group. They may attempt terrorist attacks on the U.S. and European countries, in addition to those in the Middle East.
It is essential for the United States, which has led international cooperation in counterterrorism efforts, to stay involved in maintaining security. Mr. Trump must redesign his strategy to stabilize Afghanistan.
The former Soviet Union, which invaded Afghanistan in 1979, was forced to withdraw from the country three decades ago after facing fierce resistance from local armed forces. The country entered a civil war and is still in chaos today.
A presidential election is scheduled for July in Afghanistan. Promoting reconciliation among the ethnic groups that make up the country and helping them establish an independent government and improve national security will be the most important thing to do.
Russia is promoting the mediation of peace talks under a different framework from the United States. We ask the two countries to collaborate and the international community to strengthen its cooperation.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 18, 2019)