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Survey finds majority of Americans support Trump’s deal to end war

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(Last Updated On: September 15, 2020)

A survey by New York-based Eurasia Group Foundation has found that two-thirds of US President Donald Trump’s supporters are in favor of his deal with the Taliban to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan. 

The results of the survey, released Monday, found “two-thirds of Trump supporters either strongly support or somewhat support the details of the negotiations.” 

The deal, signed in February in Doha, commits all US troops to leave Afghanistan within 14 months, ending what has become America’s longest war.

In return, the Taliban agreed to cut ties with and prevent terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda from operating in the country and to begin peace talks with Afghanistan government negotiators.  

Nearly 60 percent of supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden also favor the US deal. 

“Ending the war in Afghanistan is extremely popular, and Americans of all political persuasions want to honor the recent agreement,” the foundation noted in its findings.

Fewer than 10 percent of those surveyed opposed the agreement, while one-third remained neutral.

“Since last year, the portion of respondents who believe the US should stay in Afghanistan until all enemies are defeated has dropped by half — from 30 percent to 15 percent,” the survey noted. 

The US-Taliban agreement led to the start of much-awaited peace talks on Saturday between Taliban leaders and Afghan government negotiators. 

The dialogue, officially known as intra-Afghan negotiations, is being hosted by Doha, Qatar – where US and Taliban negotiators sealed their deal.

Talks were supposed to have started in March but delays over the release of thousands of Taliban prisoners and continued attacks by the insurgent group stalled the start of talks. 

However, after the release of all but seven Taliban prisoners, the first round of talks got underway this past weekend. 

In keeping with their agreement, the United States has drawn its troops level down to 8,600 from 13,000 and has stated a further drawdown to 4,500 will be done by November. 

In addition, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that the US was on a path to zero troops in Afghanistan by March or April next year. 

According to VOA news, former US Vice President Biden supports the withdrawal plan but wants the Pentagon to keep a small military footprint in Afghanistan to counter any threat of terrorism.

In an interview with VOA, the co-author of the Eurasia Group Foundation, Mark Hannah said Americans seem to have lost patience with the war. 

“As we enter the 20th year of the conflict in Afghanistan, the American people appear to have lost patience with an interminable war which has drifted from its original mission, and which appears all but unwinnable,” he said. 

“I think they wisely understand that all the military might in the world can’t easily vanquish amorphous, non-state adversaries and that America’s continued presence in Afghanistan is neither making Americans safe nor serving some vital national interest,” said Hannah.

The report also stated that respondents of all political parties generally agree the US should negotiate directly with hostile nations if doing so might help avoid conflict, essentially rejecting the logic that doing so would unacceptably legitimize unsavory regimes. 

“Republican and Democratic respondents both think peace is best achieved by prioritizing the domestic needs of the US, and neither opts for the unilateral use force to stop human rights abuses abroad,” the report stated.

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NATO to provide provisional funding to help run Kabul airport

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

NATO has not yet decided on who would run the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul once foreign troops have withdrawn, the organization’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said Monday night. 

Stoltenberg said however that Turkey would play a “key role” in running the airport and that NATO is committed to providing transitional funding for the key facility. 

This comes after Turkey offered to run and guard the airport after the withdrawal of troops. 

However, the Taliban issued a warning and said such a move would be a “mistake” and that any country doing so would be considered invaders. 

“The presence of foreign forces under whatever name or by whichever country in our homeland is unacceptable for the Afghan people and the Islamic Emirate (Taliban),” the group cautioned in a statement.

The Taliban insisted that the security of airports, foreign embassies, and diplomatic offices is the responsibility of Afghans, saying that “no one should hold out hope of keeping military or security presence” in Afghanistan.   

In a communique issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the NATO Summit, it was stated that NATO will retain a Senior Civilian Representative’s Office in Kabul to continue diplomatic engagement and enhance its partnership with Afghanistan.

“Recognising its importance to an enduring diplomatic and international presence, as well as to Afghanistan’s connectivity with the world, NATO will provide transitional funding to ensure the continued functioning of Hamid Karzai International Airport,” the communique read.  

“We will also step up dialogue on Afghanistan with relevant international and regional partners. We continue to support the ongoing Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process, and call on all stakeholders to help Afghanistan foster a lasting inclusive political settlement that puts an end to violence; safeguards the human rights of Afghans, particularly women, children, and minorities; upholds the rule of law; and ensures that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists.”

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NATO looking at setting up training base for Afghan forces in Qatar

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

Security officials under NATO command have approached Qatar to secure a base that can be used to train Afghan special forces as part of a strategic commitment after foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan, three senior Western officials told Reuters.

After two decades of war, forces from 36 countries involved in NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan are set to pull out of the country in coordination with a U.S. troop withdrawal by September 11.

“We are holding talks to earmark a base in Qatar to create an exclusive training ground for senior members of the Afghan forces,” said a senior Western security official in Kabul.

The official, whose country is part of the U.S.-led NATO alliance in Afghanistan, requested anonymity as he was not authorized to speak with journalists.

An integral part of Resolute Support has been to train and equip Afghan security forces fighting the Taliban, which was ousted from power in 2001 and has since waged an insurgency.

“We have made an offer but it is for authorities in Qatar to decide if they are comfortable with NATO using their territory as a training ground,” said a second security source based in Washington DC.

A third source, a diplomat based in Kabul, told Reuters bringing “Afghan special force members to Qatar for about four to six weeks of rigorous training” was under discussion.

Qatar’s government and NATO’s communications office did not respond to questions about the proposal to use the Gulf state as a base for training Afghan forces. 

The Afghan government also did not respond to a request for comment.

 

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Khalilzad says US ‘not leaving Afghanistan’ despite troop pullout

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has said the United States will not abandon the war-torn country even after the withdrawal of its forces.

Addressing a press conference during his visit to Kazakhstan’s capital, Nur-Sultan on Sunday, Khalilzad said: “Our forces are leaving Afghanistan, but the United States is not leaving Afghanistan. We will work hard for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.”

“We will continue our security assistance, and we will continue our economic and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan,” he added.

This comes as concerns continue to grown around the uncertainty in Kabul amid a spike in violence and stalled peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan Republic.

In Nur-Sultan, Khalilzad said he regularly discusses Afghanistan with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative Zamir Kabulov, RFE\RL reported Monday.

“Russia and the United States are working well together in promoting peace in Afghanistan,” according to him.

Khalilzad is currently on a visit to the region in a drive to muster support for the peace process ahead of the US and NATO troops withdrawal, which is expected to be finalized by September 11.

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