Afghan political analysts have differing views on Senator McCain's concerns
McCain, a Republican Senator from Arizona, said on Monday in an exclusive interview with CNN from Afghanistan that the Obama administration’s troop drawdown plan carries unnecessary risks.
Senator McCain maintained that the troop drawdown plan will imperil US troops engaged in counterinsurgency operations, especially in eastern zone of Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama has ordered a troop reduction of 10,000 by the end of this year and another 23,000 by September 2012.
An Afghan political analyst, Ahmad Waheed Mujhda, told Pajhwok Afghan News that a precipitous withdrawal would put pressure on the troops that remain in the country and said that the number casualties will rise.
Mujhda also said the US drawdown will cause other ISAF member countries to pull their troops from Afghanistan, leaving the country at risk of renewed war.
If the war continues and the government cannot reconcile with the militants, the departing troops will leave behind a state of civil war, he said. He continued that the government should negotiate with militants and approach a resolution before international troops depart in order to avoid this outcome.
If international troops depart before such a resolution occurs, he added, the situation will be much the same as it was after the departure of Soviet troops.
Mujhda thinks Obama’s drawdown plan is tied to the coming presidential election and that President Obama is trying to appeal to voters.
Ghulam Jailani Zowak, another political analyst, said that McCain is concerned that if US troops depart Afghanistan without achieving a clear success, it could boost the morale of the militants.
Zowak said he did not believe international troops, especially US troops, would leave soon. At the same time, however, he said US voters want to withdraw from Afghanistan because the American public cannot tolerate the expense and the high casualties of continuing the war.
Senator McCain is also concerned that the United States intends to conduct the war through its bases in the future, Zowak said.
Nonetheless, military analyst and former Defence Minister Shah Nawaz Tanai said he believed President Obama's drawdown plan was appropriate, and added that the international community should support training and equipping Afghan security forces so that they will be able to assume security responsibility fully by 2014.
He added that the troop drawdown will allow Afghanistan enhance its status as an independent country and will calm regional tensions. Militants may also negotiate after 33,000 US troops depart from the country, Tanai said.
According to Tanai, the US’s stated goal in Afghanistan was to combat insurgents and assist the Afghan people, but the country, and Senator McCain, also had other regional objectives in mind.
Meanwhile, Afghan officials said that they are ready to assume security responsibility without delay.
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