Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other top officials cheered the Obama Administration’s announcement of a 34,000 cut of US occupation forces within the next year, terming it “good news” and something the government has waited for.
The Afghan Defense Ministry also embraced the announcement, saying that they are “ready to fill the vacuum” and ready to “take full responsibility for security” despite the glaring evidence to the contrary.
Former Afghan military officials were less optimistic, saying that the army as it stands is “too weak.” The US has so far been mum on how long troops will remain, and says no announcements beyond the 34,000 will be made soon.
Taliban officials endorsed the drawdown, but suggested that the US should simply withdraw the rest of the troops as well. They have long expressed openness to talks but conditioned on the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan.
The Karzai government has been attempting to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban for months now, and are hoping this announcement will kickstart that. Lack of visibility on the other 30,000-plus US troops in Afghanistan may keep that from happening, however.
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