The United States Government confirmed this Friday a reduction in the number of military personnel deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq to 2,500 in each country, the lowest level since the start of operations, in line with the commitment of the outgoing president of the country, Donald Trump, to withdraw the soldiers in these countries.
Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller has highlighted in a statement that “the United States has reduced its level of forces” in Iraq and Afghanistan to 2,500, “as ordered by Trump” and announced himself on November 17, 2020 , in separate statements on the military situation in these countries.
In the first of them, regarding Afghanistan, Miller said that “the United States is closer than ever to ending almost two decades of war” and applauded the process of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which began as a result of the historic peace agreement signed on February 29 between Washington and the insurgents.
Thus, he has said that he hopes that this process “will achieve a political agreement and a permanent and exhaustive ceasefire”, while he has defended that the current level of deployment allows “to keep the United States, its people and its interests safe.” “Working together with our allies and partners in NATO, the United States will continue to carry out both our counterterrorism mission and that of training, advising and assisting in support of the Afghan security forces working to guarantee peace in the country,” he said. .
Miller has argued that “the continued fulfillment of these two complementary missions seeks to ensure that Afghanistan is never again used as a hiding place for those who seek to cause harm to the United States.” “This reduction of forces is an indication of the continued support of the United States to the Afghan peace process and our respect for the commitments made in the agreement with the Taliban and in the joint Afghan-American declaration,” he said.
Along these lines, he reiterated that “the Department continues with the planning of a future reduction of the level of troops to zero before May 2021”, although it has influenced that this withdrawal “continues to be based on conditions.” “All parties must demonstrate their commitment to advance the peace process,” he explained.
Miller has also argued that the North American country “will continue to carry out whatever action is necessary to protect the country, its citizens and the interests” of the United States.
Violation of the agreement
The Taliban have accused on several occasions of violating the agreement by carrying out bombardments against their positions, although Washington has defended that it is in line with its commitments to defend Afghan forces against insurgent attacks.
The agreement signed by Washington and the insurgent group contemplated the withdrawal of 8,600 US military personnel within 135 days of the signing and the total withdrawal of troops within 14 months. The number of American soldiers in the country was already reduced to 8,600 in July 2020.
Following reports of the reduction of troops by Washington, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned the United States of the “high cost” of leaving Afghanistan too soon or in an uncoordinated manner.
Also in Irák
On the other hand, Miller has confirmed that the withdrawal in Iraq has caused that the number of soldiers present in the country is also reduced to 2,500 and has argued that “it is a reflection of the increase in the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces.” “We have long anticipated that the level of forces needed to support Iraq’s fight against the Islamic State would be reduced while the Iraqi capacity to manage the threat from the Islamic State,” he said. “Our ability to reduce strength levels is proof of real progress,” he added.
In this way, he has outlined that “this reduction in forces is consistent with the transition from operation ‘Inherent Resolution’ from large combat operations and does not amount to a change in United States policy” in the Asian country. . “US and coalition forces remain in Iraq to ensure the lasting defeat of Islamic State,” he said, before saying that “the governments of Iraq and the United States agree that the Islamic State remains a threat and that the presence of the United States and the coalition remains vital.
“We will continue to have an anti-terror platform in Iraq to support forces associated with air power and intelligence. Most of the operations in Iraq were already being carried out by our Iraqi partners, with the support of US forces and the coalition, “he revealed.
Thus, Miller has argued that the United States “can continue to provide this support to Iraqi partners with the reduced level of troops” and has stated that “the Iraqi people deserve a safe, stable, prosperous Iraq and capable of defending itself from the violent extremist groups and those seeking to undermine Iraqi security. “We are committed to supporting our Iraqi partners in their efforts to achieve these goals,” he added.
Iraqi authorities stressed in November that they will maintain cooperation with the international coalition against the Islamic State after Miller’s aforementioned announcement about the withdrawal of part of his contingent in the country.
In this sense, the spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, Tahsín al Jafaji, pointed out that the international coalition confirmed to Baghdad that it will fulfill its commitments in the fight against the jihadist group and stressed that the withdrawal of part of the Iraqi troops is part of a ‘road map’ prepared by Iraq and the coalition itself.
Al Jafaji also recalled that the United States Army and the coalition had evacuated several military bases in the previous months that were handed over to the Iraqi security forces, which in his opinion shows a sign of confidence in the capabilities of the Iraqi forces. .
The Iraqi Parliament passed a resolution in January 2020 demanding the withdrawal of US troops from the country following the bombing carried out by Washington at the Baghdad airport, which resulted in the death of the head of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard of Iraq. Iran, Qasem Soleimani, and the ‘number two’ of the Popular Mobilization Forces (FMP), Abu Mahdi al Muhandis.