US drawdown and legal implication

Day before yesterday, US Department of Defense told the media that the US military has not halted a US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan. Although, a new law prohibiting further reductions without the submission of a risk assessment report by the Pentagon to US Congress on the subject. There is likely a reaction to the situation by US law makers who can oppose to further troops cut and renew concerns about the outgoing Trump administration’s contempt for Congress.

According to new defense policy bill  Congress overrode  a veto by President Donald Trump and prohibited using funds appropriated for fiscal years 2020- 2021 to pay for a drawdown below 4,000 US troops until acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller submits an assessment report on the risks and impacts after US drawdown from Afghanistan. However, Acting Secretary of Defense didn’t submit this risk assessment report due to uncertainty of the situation in Afghanistan or otherwise.

The reduction in the number of troops would be a violation of the new law passed by the Congress in the near past. On other hand, if US administration does not meet the obligations under the agreement concluded between the United States and Afghan Taliban in Feb 2019, will detract and hamper the ongoing Afghanistan Reconciliation Process. Due to reason, Pentagon is going to meet its planned drawdown to reach about 2500 troops by January 15, this year.

At time the ongoing Intra-Afghan Peace negotiations are not so impressive and encouraging. Afghan government team is stressing for cease fire in the country whereas Taliban wants first confirmation of Islamic System in the country then come to this point. It seems a difficult stage which demands full patience from both parties. On US side, it looks that US will shift its troops to its military bases in the Middle East or in Central Asia, so can manage their return back at shortest notice in case of any unpleasant situation. “Said a congressional aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The White House declined to comment. Halting the drawdown could jeopardize the US-backed Afghanistan peace process as a February 2019 agreement with the Taliban calls for a complete US troop withdrawal by May in return for the insurgents fulfilling security guarantees.

In November, the Pentagon said it would reduce the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January. It is unclear how many troops have been moved out of Afghanistan since the law passed. Sources from the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan told TOLOnews that agreeing on the agenda for the negotiations will take time and that neither side has shown flexibility over the last three days. The sources said that the republic’s negotiating team is insisting on ceasefire as a priority in their formal talks, but the Taliban holds that a discussion about a ceasefire must come only after an agreement on a future government.

“There won’t be a need for ceasefire if the Islamic system is confirmed, and ceasefire will be applied accordingly,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander. “The parliament is following the peace process and will stand against any compromise,” said Mir Rahman Rahmani, the speaker of the parliament. The working groups of the two sides have held meetings over the last three days. “The Taliban thinks that they will not benefit if they agree to a ceasefire before an agreement on a (future) government. The Taliban does not want to agree on ceasefire ahead of an agreement,” said Gul Rahman Qazi, head of the peace and salvation council of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the High Council for National Reconciliation stated that attempts to find a solution to unify the agenda are underway. “Discussions about unifying the agenda have started and we hope that they achieve a decision in the interest of the people of Afghanistan,” said Fraidoon Khwazoon, spokesman for the High Council for National Reconciliation. Peace negotiators went to Doha last week to resume the talks that were stopped for 23 days for consultation on the agenda of the negotiations.