Afghan lawmakers warns of civil war if US troops leave
By Meena Haseeb - Thu Jan 10 2013, 9:50 am
This comes as White House on Tuesday announced that Washington is onsidering the so-called “zero option” of a complete pullout of troops from Afghanistan.
That option and the angry reaction from Afghan officials are likely to dominate talks between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai in Washington on Friday, Reuters reported.
The meeting between the two leaders is reportedly going to be tense, given ongoing strains in their relationship over the war.
“If Americans pull out all of their troops without a plan, the civil war of the 1990s would repeat itself,” Naeem Lalai, an outspoken lawmaker from volatile Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Taliban quoted by Reuters said.
“It (full withdrawal) will pave the way for the Taliban to take over militarily,” Lalai said.
In the meantime the current and former U.S. officials say the Obama administration cannot afford to lose in Afghanistan after a dozen years of fighting and an ongoing threat by al-Qaida and its extremist Taliban allies. Defeating al-Qaida and bolstering Afghan forces to prevent the terror network’s return there has been a top priority for President Barack Obama since he took office, while ending the war in Iraq was the fulfillment of a campaign promise.
“We’ve made a lot of progress against al-Qaida, but the job is not done,” Doug Lute, the top White House military adviser on Afghanistan, told reporters this week. “The Afghan National Security Forces are a work in progress.”
The U.S. has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of about 100,000 as recently as 2010. Just how many troops might remain is at the heart of widespread discussion in Washington, where Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai meets with Obama on Friday.