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Reaction to the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan

US President Donald Trump decided to cut the American military contingent in Afghanistan from 4.5 to 2.5 thousand troops by mid-January. The United States will withdraw a fifth of its contingent from Iraq. According to the press, this will be a disaster for the region. Journalists also note that military cooperation between the United States and Europe, as well as between European countries, is on the verge of another test.

Triple disaster

Withdrawal of a part of the contingent will entail serious consequences, Deutschlandfunk fears:

“Both militarily, diplomatically, and politically. In the military, because it would call into question the entire mission in Afghanistan. The security of the international contingent will be threatened. ... In diplomatic terms, this decision is also a disaster, because it undermines negotiations with the Taliban — after all, if there is no serious threat on the horizon, then the Taliban will no longer feel bound by any agreements. ... In a political sense, Trump's unilateral decision poses a colossal security risk. The vacuum in Iraq will quickly be filled by Iran and Russia. And Afghanistan can once again become a platform for Islamist terror.“

It is undermining the international alliance

Hospodarske news also predicts huge damage:

“Apparently, Trump is determined to fulfill one of the most important promises of his campaign. However, the reality is that the vacuum that forms where the soldiers leave is immediately filled with other forces. ... In addition: what should the US allies in Europe now think — those who have sent their contingents to participate in joint missions in which US support is critical? They were simply presented with a fait accompli. “We send troops together — and we withdraw them together” is the principle on which an alliance is built. And the alliance collapses if this principle is not observed.“

The Taliban will be delighted

The US President essentially gave carte blanche to former Islamist rulers, Der Standard writes:

“Nine months ago, the US government struck a deal with the Afghan Taliban — which it overthrew in the fall/winter of 2001. According to this agreement, the United States pledged to withdraw from Afghanistan if the Taliban agree to negotiate with the country's government and share power in the country, and also ensure that transnational jihadist groups, such as al-Qaeda or IS, do not enter Afghanistan. Recently, negotiations have been very sluggish, and violence from the Taliban has only increased. This is the answer to the question of who will become ... the beneficiary of the withdrawal of part of the American contingent. The Taliban now know that the US is leaving the country — regardless of whether the notorious power-sharing is achieved — or not. “

Little hope for a European response

Brussels could take advantage of the situation and present its vision of defense policy within NATO. Unfortunately, however, there is again a lack of unity, says Gianluca Di Feo, deputy editor-in-chief of La Repubblica:

“The European contingent could replace the US military in Afghanistan — even if it was exclusively engaged in training local military personnel and played the role of guarantor of peaceful change. Such an approach would be in line with the vision that German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer presented in her speech to the Bundeswehr cadets two weeks ago. However, Paris, which, through Macron's intervention, has shown its will to strengthen the military power of the community, does not seem to agree with this vision. For France, the priority is the African region of the Sahel, where Islamist militants are rampaging and threatening Europe from there.”

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