Dumb as an orange door: "Trump's Afghanistan withdrawal announcement takes US officials by surprise"
Donald Trump has announced on Twitter that he wants to bring all US troops home from Afghanistan by Christmas – a plan that came as a surprise to administration officials and which puts complicated peace negotiations in jeopardy.
Multiple officials told the Associated Press they had not been informed of any such deadline and military experts said it would be impossible to withdraw all 5,000 US troops in Afghanistan and dismantle the US military headquarters by the end of the year.
They suggested the president’s claim was aimed at shifting the news cycle away from coronavirus coverage and that the Pentagon would not act on the order before the 3 November US election.
The announcement was, however, greeted enthusiastically by the Taliban on Thursday. If Trump follows through, the militant group would almost certainly claim it as a victory, after decades of couching their fight as a war against foreign aggression.
“It’s no surprise that the Taliban have welcomed Trump’s announcement that he’d have the troops home by Christmas. They spent 19 years fighting for this,” said Ashley Jackson, the director of the ODI’s Centre for the Study of Armed Groups.
“This is the last leverage the US had left in talks with the Taliban, and Trump is proposing to give it away for free.”