Donald Trump commits US to open-ended Afghanistan war, Taliban vow ‘graveyard’: Top developments

U.S. President Donald Trump announces his strategy for the war in Afghanistan during an address from Fort Myer, Virginia, U.S., August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts Related News

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday committed US troops to an open-ended war in Afghanistan, a decision the Afghanistan government welcomed. Taliban has, however, warned that this decision by the United States of America would make the country a “graveyard for the American empire”. Trump also vowed to step up military campaign against the Taliban. He also blamed Pakistan for harbouring terrorists in safe havens on its soil. US officials said Trump has signed off on Defense Secretary James Mattis’ plans to despatch around 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

Here is what has happened in the past 24 hours:

1. In a statement to Reuters, US President Donald Trump said his original instinct was to pull out all US troops. But after a lengthy review with his military advisers about the US’ longest war he was convinced.

2. “The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable,” he said. “A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill.”

3. Trump reiterated that although US’ troops will fight to win, he asserted that eventually Afghanistan’s police and army must to most of the fighting to defeat the Taliban and allied Islamist militants. “The stronger the Afghan security forces become, the less we will have to do. … We want them to succeed.”

4. Approximately 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan work closely with a NATO-led training and advising mission. The rest are a part of a counter-terror operation that mostly targets pockets of Al-Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists.

5. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday welcomed the US strategy saying it would expand the training mission for Afghan forces. “I am grateful to President Trump and the American people for this affirmation of support … for our joint struggle to rid the region from the threat of terrorism,” Ghani said in a statement.

6. The Taliban condemned US President Donald Trump’s decision saying: “If the U.S. does not pull all its forces out of Afghanistan, we will make this country the 21st century graveyard for the American empire.”

7. The United States-backed Afghanistan forces overthrew the Taliban’s hard-line Islamist government in late 2001 over its sheltering of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, primary architect architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in U.S. cities that killed nearly 2,000 people.

8. US’ involvement in the Afghanistan war has however created problems for three presidents. Around 2,400 US troops have been killed in action in Afghanistan ever since.

9. Trump asserted that he would not engage in nation building even as he warned that US’ support “is not a blank check” for Afghanistan’s corruption-plagued government.

10. Trump also slammed Pakistan for providing safe haven to terrorists. “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens,” he said, referring to complaints that Taliban and other militants move freely in Pakistan.

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