Conflicts & War

US withdrawal could complicate the Afghan war, peace process

By Baber Khan Sahel

Kabul, Apr 18 (EFE).- The long-expected withdrawal of American and NATO forces from Afghanistan could complicate the war and ongoing peace process amid fears in the population that it could tilt the country towards a possible civil war.

United States president Joe Biden said he would withdraw the remaining 2,500 American troops from Afghanistan by early September following a review of the US-Taliban agreement. NATO members said they would remove all of their nearly 7,000 troops from the country as well.

But the decision comes at a moment when Afghan security forces are struggling to hold ground with the threat of Taliban attacks looming daily.

In 20 years of conflict, the Taliban has managed to chip away at government-controlled areas, reducing it to just 53.8% of the country, according to US military data in January 2019. The Taliban have not taken power in any of the capital cities of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.

Only 12% of the country is in Taliban control, mostly in remote and rural areas, while 40% of the territory is contested.

“I think no side will win this war militarily, the past 20 years proved this fact,” retired military general, Atiqullah Amarkhil, told Efe, referring to Afghanistan’s future after the US and NATO withdrawal.

“For sure, war will intensify,” he says, adding that Afghan forces have to defend against increasing Taliban attacks.

He believes the war will only subside if Pakistan changes its policy toward Afghanistan as a result of international pressure.

“Everyone knows the war in Afghanistan is a proxy war of Pakistani military. So until Pakistan doesn’t stop supporting the Taliban, the war will continue,” he says.

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