U.S. President Donald Trump stressed this week that there would be no complete withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, saying the United States would “always” have to keep an eye on the Taliban.
On Tuesday, a reporter asked Trump, “Could we be back to where we were pre-9/11 with the Taliban in complete and total control of Afghanistan?”
“Well, that’s what we have to watch,” the U.S. commander-in-chief responded. “And we’ll always have intelligence, and we’ll always have somebody there.”
“We are bringing some of our troops back,” he later added, “but we have to have a presence.”
Taliban narco-jihadis have repeatedly rejected U.S. proposals to maintain even a minimal military footprint in Afghanistan.
The Taliban has said it will only agree to a peace deal that involves the withdrawal of all foreign forces.
Peace negotiations continue, however, with the United States currently engaged in the ninth round of talks with the terrorist group. Negotiators are reportedly finalizing the timeline for the withdrawal of U.S.-led foreign troops, among other things.
The Trump administration has come out in support of legitimizing the Taliban as a political group, a move that could grant the terrorist group the opportunity to return to power in Kabul if elected to do so.
That means Afghanistan could find itself in the same situation it was in when the United States invaded the country in October 2001— with an al-Qaeda friendly Taliban regime in control of the country.
The U.S. removed the Taliban regime in late 2001 for harboring al-Qaeda, the terrorist group behind the 9/11 attacks.
Thomas Joscelyn of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) agrees, telling the New York Times (NYT):
There is not a scintilla of evidence that the network is willing to break with Al Qaeda. Even if the Taliban were to renounce AQ and attacks on the West, which they have never done, you’d need a verification mechanism. But if you withdraw all Western troops, there is no verification.
Citing an unnamed source familiar with the imminent peace deal, NYT claims, “There is no explicit requirement for the Taliban to renounce its ties to Al Qaeda.”
So far, the U.S. has agreed to the withdrawal of foreign forces in exchange for Taliban assurances that it will not allow Afghanistan to harbor international terrorists.
The U.S. also expects the Taliban to engage in intra-Afghan talks and a ceasefire as part of a peace agreement.
On Tuesday, Trump conceded that the Taliban could not be trusted.
Taliban narco-jihadis continue to refuse to engage in talks with the Afghan government, claiming it is an American “puppet.”
The Taliban, which is fighting to establish a sharia-compliant Islamic emirate, already considers itself the only legitimate government.
Taliban terrorists control or contest about half of Afghanistan. A recent report by a top U.S. government watchdog agency determined that the war in Afghanistan remains at a “stalemate.” It added that the Taliban has failed to conquer additional territory in the last year.
President Trump has made no secret of his desire to end the Afghanistan war, a position that is in line with the wishes of most of the American public.
“We’ve been a peacekeeper there, in a way, for [about 18] years and at a certain point, you have to say, ‘That’s long enough,’” Trump also told reporters Tuesday.
Asked about pulling all American service members out of the Afghanistan quagmire, Trump replied, “It’s a dangerous place, and we have to always keep an eye on it.”
There are about 13,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the president noted, lamenting that they are functioning more like a “police” force than a military unit.
“We’ve been there for 18 years. It’s ridiculous. We have taken it down a notch,” Trump added.
The Taliban has intensified attacks amid the ongoing peace talks, but ISIS also maintains a presence int country.
Afghanistan is home to the highest concentration of terrorist groups in the world, according to the Pentagon.
Wednesday’s fatalities bring the total 2019 American death toll to 14. The U.S. military deaths so far this year already exceed those from 2017 (11), 2016 (9), and 2015 (11), CNSNews.com reported.
Overall, the Afghan war has killed 2,293 U.S. troops and wounded 20,507 others with the vast majority of casualties taking place under the previous administration. The U.S. also spends an estimated $3 billion per month on the war — for total of nearly $1 trillion.
Nevertheless, the New York Times reported Thursday that the Trump administration wants to pull out all American troops “within 14 months.”
It remains unclear exactly what the peace deal will entail because negotiations continue. The Trump administration hopes to announce an agreement by September 1.
For over a year, the United States and the Taliban have been negotiating an end to the nearly 18-year-old war