A recent decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw troops from Afghanistan sparked different reactions and implications in the country. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president, has sent a letter to Trump asking him not to completely pull out American troops from Afghanistan.
Since taking office in the United States, Trump has adopted a new approach on the country’s military presence in extraterritorial environments, according to which the costs of US military intervention in other countries should be reduced. Moreover, the White House partners in different parts of the world should pay more for coming under the US security cover.
It is based on this consideration that Trump has put the withdrawal of US troops out of Afghanistan on the agenda; of course, this approach of Trump has been faced with some opposition from the White House and the US Congress. Perhaps this is why John Bolton, National Security Advisor, a few days after the announcement by Trump tried to correct or modify the US president’s stance.
With regard to Trump’s autocratic approach in making decisions related to the Republican administration and his prominent feature in not accepting counsel from others, it is unlikely for Trump to have second thoughts on withdrawing the American troops from Afghanistan.
In the US foreign policy, part of which is shaped by military interventions in different parts of the world, Trump, unlike his predecessors, prefers economic advantages to political interests within elements consolidating the US hegemonic power.
The growing pressure by Trump on NATO member states to further contribute to the costs of the organization is in line with the same policy that tries to mitigate US spending overseas.
This is while the continuation of the US military presence in Afghanistan is inconsistent with the US interests considering the intellectual model Trump has outlined in the foreign policy. Therefore, the costs of the war for the White House should be significantly reduced.
On the other hand, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai in response to this decision in a letter addressed to Trump, while stressing the necessity of not fully withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, has proposed reducing the number of US troops from 14,000 to 3,000 and saving $2 billion in annual costs of the American forces.
Ashraf Ghani, who has been facing criticisms over his National Unity government’s security policies since a few months after taking office in 2014, has serious concerns about the complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
The president of Afghanistan, who has been accused of weakness in adopting effective security measures to curb the violence and terrorism in the past five years, considers full withdrawal of US troops a beginning for more attacks by terrorist groups against the army and police in Afghanistan.
Even some advisers close to Ashraf Ghani are convinced that the full withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan could trigger the possibility of the central government’s collapse.
Ashraf Ghani, who held the Afghan parliamentary elections in October 2018 with delay and is due to hold the presidential election with a three-month delay in June 2019, is under fire of critics to the extent that some critics accuse him of incompetence.
Therefore, it is speculated that after the complete foreign troop pullout from Afghanistan escalation of unrest and insecurity may prevent the upcoming presidential elections from being held. If this happens, Ashraf Ghani will join the list of those Afghan political figures whose record in the current and future generations of Afghanistan will be under constant reproach in history.
Undermining the current position of Ashraf Ghani in the political arena of Afghanistan and in competition with rivals in the upcoming presidential election is one of the challenges that could lead to increased insecurity.
Meanwhile, the withdrawal of US troops, despite the fact that their combat mission was over in 2014, will have a psychological impact on this equation.
Since the militants in Afghanistan do not have a combat role and their mission is in the field of training and counselling, it seems that the negative consequences of the full withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan are exaggerated to some extent. The experience of Afghanistan in 2014 when tens of thousands of foreign troops left the country in a two-year process, has shown that the psychological effects of this withdrawal are too conventional and that in the real battlefield, the balance was not fully in favour of the armed groups opposed to the Kabul government.
Perhaps this is why the new experience of Afghanistan concerning the US troop pullout has been described by the Afghan media as an outburst.
It seems that the vacuum created by the drawdown of foreign troops who started a mission of training and counselling five years ago, provides a good opportunity for Afghanistan to depend on its own domestic capabilities, reduce political differences, boost training, and use ethnic, religious and political capacities to find appropriate solutions to the problems. Through creating convergence in providing security for the forthcoming election the Afghans can leave behind the psychological effects of withdrawal of American forces on their internal and external implications.