Connecting Regions of Asia.

Mixed U.S. Signals On Afghan Withdrawal

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A top U.S. general declined to endorse recent White House announcements on speeding up the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told NPR radio on Sunday that the agreement reached with Afghan and Taliban officials to leave Afghanistan was “conditions based.”

He qualified his statement by saying that the United States would “responsibly” end the war.

(Analysts told Easternlink that means the US troops will not leave Afghanistan in a hurry  but the withdrawal would be phased and linked to negotiations and commitments arising out of it)
President Trump’s national security adviser last week said the U.S. would cut its troops to 2,500 by early next year.

 Hours later, Mr. Trump suggested a timeline as early as Christmas.
 As negotiators in Doha, Qatar, try to push peace talks forward, the Taliban is testing Afghan and U.S. resolve by launching an offensive on the capital of Helmand Province.
 A women’s health club in Kandahar is challenging conservative traditions that vilify exercise for women. “I feel so healthy and I have more energy — I’m so happy,” one woman said. Some say this is a prelude to Afghan gender groups challenging any Taliban attempt to impose purdah or veil for women.

Easternlink’s defence editor S Govindan adds : India is closely watching , and also seeking to influence, US policy on withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Delhi has told Washington on the sidelines of the Quad meeting recently that any hasty US withdrawal will only help Chinese penetration with Pakistani help of key sectors of Afghan economy that will help the Dragon influence decision-making in the country considered strategic by Asian powers and the West.

It is also a hugely underplayed resource nation which has attracted China’s extractive instinct.

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