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Afghan President: Obama Should ‘Re-examine’ Troop Withdrawal Deadline

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Obama should be willing to “re-examine” his December 2016 deadline for withdrawing all U.S.-led troops from Afghanistan.

Ghani also said that he is concerned about the threat the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, or ISIL) poses to Afghanistan in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday.

“Deadlines concentrate the mind. But deadlines should not be dogmas,” Ghani told “60 Minutes”.

“If both parties, or, in this case, multiple partners, have done their best to achieve the objectives and progress is very real, then there should be willingness to reexamine a deadline,” he added

When asked if Obama knows how he feels about the deadline, Ghani replied, “President Obama knows me. We don’t need to tell each other.”

Gen. John Campbell, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was also interviewed by CBS.

He told “60 Minutes” that Afghanistan “absolutely” faces some of the same risks that Iraq did when the U.S. completely withdrew its forces from there.

“The fundamental difference is that the senior leadership, both on the military side and in the government, want the coalition,” he said. “They want the U.S. to stay here.”

Nevertheless, he conceded, “There still continue to be threats here in Afghanistan that will try to dictate that it’s not stable.”

The Afghan president told “60 Minutes” that he is concerned with the rise of the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, or ISIL) and the threat the jihadist group poses to Afghanistan.

“There have been incidents of recruiting, of night letter drops that talked about different parts of the country. So they’re concerned– if they’re concerned, I’m concerned about that,” said Gen. Campbell.

However, he added, “I don’t see ISIS, ISIL, coming into Afghanistan like they did into Iraq. The Afghan Security Forces would not allow that.”

Qari Abdullah, who claims to command 150 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province, pledged his support for ISIS, which has threatened to move into Afghanistan.

“May we be united to spread our ideology throughout the world,” Abdullah said on the CBS program, adding, “We will fight against democracy wherever it is.”

CBS noted that the U.S. ceded control of certain areas in Kunar Province when American soldiers were pulled out of there.

President Obama has set a number of deadlines related to the war in Afghanistan, with the ultimate goal of ending the conflict.

The president ended the combat mission and drew down U.S. troops to nearly 11,000 at the end of 2014, the deadliest year of the war.

By the end of this year, the 11,000 American troops will be further reduced by about half.

U.S. troops are scheduled to be completely out of the country by the end of 2016, with the exception of a small force charged with protecting the U.S. embassy.

In the wake of the 911 attacks, the U.S. deployed troops to Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001 to defeat al-Qaeda.

Gen. Campbell conceded that after 13 years of war against the group, there are still “small pockets” of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

The general said the U.S. has to “keep continued pressure” to prevent al-Qaeda from launching attacks against the United States from Afghanistan.

Gen. Campbell admitted that Pakistan continues to provide sanctuary to some of America’s most lethal enemies in Afghanistan.


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