US President Donald Trump is withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, but it is not a complete withdrawal.
The number of military personnel in Afghanistan should be reduced from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January, the US Department of Defense reports. 500 of the 3,000 Americans leave Iraq, leaving 2,500 soldiers there too.
The media had reported the day before that the troop reduction was imminent. The withdrawal must therefore be completed before the inauguration of the new president on January 20.
Trump had tweeted weeks before the presidential election in early November that US soldiers in Afghanistan should be back in the United States by Christmas. He had already announced during his 2016 election campaign that he would be bringing troops home.
In Afghanistan, the Americans fought the radical Islamic Taliban, but the parties agreed in February to leave each other alone as much as possible from now on. Trump spoke in September of a reduction in Iraq to 2,000 troops.
According to National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, the president hopes that eventually, all US troops will be out of Afghanistan and Iraq by May. Republican Trump’s leading party members have already warned against a hasty departure.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg is also not happy with Washington’s decision. He does not want the United States and all allies to withdraw from Afghanistan on their own. If the alliance leaves Afghanistan too early or not in an orderly fashion, it may take a “very high” toll.
Afghanistan could then develop into a base for attacks by radical Muslims on the West, it is feared. The terrorist movement IS could “rebuild the terror caliphate it lost in Syria and Iraq,” warns Stoltenberg.