Euro­pean Pull­out

Southasia - - REGULAR FEATURES -

French pres­i­dent, Ni­cholas Sarkozy at a re­cent press con­fer­ence with Afghan pres­i­dent, Hamid Karzai, an­nounced France’s decision to fully with­draw its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2013; a re­ver­sal from the coun­try’s pre­vi­ous decision to work within the time­frame of 2014, spec­i­fied by NATO forces. This decision comes in the wake of four un­armed French troops re­cently killed by Tal­iban in­fil­tra­tors in the army. With mis­sion fa­tigue brew­ing amongst all key play­ers in Afghanistan, Sarkozy’s abrupt an­nounce­ment can have ad­verse ef­fects on in­vested Euro­pean play­ers like Bri­tain, Italy and Ger­many and cre­ate com­pli­ca­tions for NATO with­drawal. U.S. troops mean­while con­tinue to stick to their ini­tial time­frame of train­ing Afghan forces, plan­ning a with­drawal in 2014 and pre­par­ing for a smooth tran­si­tion of au­thor­ity. France will pull out 1000 of its cur­rent 3,600 sol­diers by 2012 (the pre­vi­ous tar­get was 600) and fully with­draw all combat troops by the end of 2013. Afghan forces have al­ready taken con­trol of half of the coun­try’s se­cu­rity but their per­for­mance re­mains se­verely want­ing. The U.S., the largest mil­i­tary pres­ence in Afghanistan, will pull out 33,000 troops by the end of 2012. Sarkozy expressed a de­sire to see more de­vel­op­ment and civil­ian projects re­place the in­ter­na­tional mil­i­tary foot­print in Afghanistan, which would even­tu­ally ex­pe­dite and re­duce mil­i­tary might in the re­gion. While Karzai agreed, he im­plied that the pro­posal was cer­tainly am­bi­tious. Bri­tain con­tin­ues with its with­drawal of all 9,500 troops for 2014 and has made long-term plans for no combat role. Ger­many too com­plies with the in­ter­na­tional decision. French an­a­lysts claim that re­cent an­nounce­ments by Sarkozy may just be an at­tempt to gain sup­port, with French elec­tions loom­ing in the near fu­ture.

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