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Nov. 22, 2013

Warfront With Jihadistan: Troops in Afghanistan

U.S. and Afghanistan close to an agreement on American troops.

The U.S. and the Afghan government appear close to agreement on a joint security pact that will keep American troops in Afghanistan for the next decade. The deal is still subject to approval by the Afghan Loya Jirga, the large governing body made up of tribal leaders. However, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told that body he won’t sign the deal until after elections next April. The White House insists on a year-end deadline.

The agreement, which has been evolving through negotiations since 2013, sets a framework for the presence of American troops and their continued role in conjunction with Afghan security forces. Details are still fluid, but what is known is that approximately 15,000 American soldiers will remain in the country to train and assist in the continued fight against al-Qaida and Taliban forces.

The White House has kept the agreement quiet, most likely because it’s an about-face from Barack Obama’s previous desire to wash his hands of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. He perhaps was compelled to change his mind, however, after watching Iraq fall apart following the unilateral U.S. withdrawal in 2010. Al-Qaida has surged once again and spread to Syria and elsewhere. If we hope to have any chance of holding on to gains made in Afghanistan, we have no choice but to maintain a strong presence there. The real concern at this point is if 15,000 troops will be enough, and whether the Afghanistan National Security Force will develop its intelligence and equipment capabilities to a point where it will be able to handle the country’s defense on its own. The history of the conflict to this point doesn’t offer much to be confident about in either case.

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