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  • first NATO defense ministers meeting virtually today will take up the question of whether or not to withdraw from the Afghan war.

  • It's the first such gathering since the U.

  • S.

  • Election meeting.

  • A deadline set by the Trump White House to withdraw all foreign troops by the end of May is now in doubt.

  • Here's a look at what's at stake for the major players involved and crucially, for the people of Afghanistan.

  • Attacks on police and civilians, roadside bombs targeting officials.

  • Afghanistan continues to be hit by violence despite the ongoing talks between the government in Kabul and the Taliban.

  • At this very particular juncture, with such kind of a deterioration off situation, we are getting closer to a real situation off chaos.

  • The NATO ministers should really keep notes off this based on their global universal obligations off protecting civilians.

  • No one wants the troops to stay forever or zala, Ashraf Nemat says.

  • But a responsible withdrawal should be based on conditions on the ground.

  • That seems to be a notion shared by many in Afghanistan for the average person throughout Afghanistan.

  • What they want is a decision that will lead to peace and an end to the fighting so that they can come to markets like this without worry.

  • As for the government, what they want is an answer.

  • They want to know exactly what the U.

  • S.

  • Wants to do, what NATO wants to do.

  • If they're keeping any forces on when they leave, that's it.

  • All they want is an answer so that they can plan for the future ahead.

  • This is one off president Biden's most challenging policy dilemmas.

  • If the US pulls out of Afghanistan by May 2021 has agreed in a deal between his predecessor and the Taliban, the country could plunge deeper into chaos.

  • If the troops stay, the Taliban could retaliate.

  • The administration will be looking, if they can, to do two things.

  • The first is to withdraw in a more measured way that will salvage some stability from the situation in Afghanistan and secondly, leave the United States and coalition partners with some capacity for counter terrorism in the region and do all of this in close coordination with its NATO allies.

  • The Biden administration has strongly signaled that they will listen to the experts and will remain in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future.

  • This is a major policy shift from the Trump White House.

  • And this will be Biden's first major policy decision for the Middle East and could have a deep impact on his presidency.

  • Americans have grown exhausted from endless wars, and it will be a tough sell to the public that remaining in Afghanistan is the best course of action.

  • NATO allies welcome the change in tone from the U.

  • S administration.

  • The alliance relies on U.

  • S forces for logistical support in Afghanistan, and Secretary General Stoltenberg made it clear that NATO won't leave before the time is right a clear hint that they may deadline could be extended.

  • If there's no decision or it's the ongoing event in this case on that, from my point, if you can only be a decision to say this, let's stay as it is for the time being.

  • That means we continue.

  • But how they continue remains a big question.

  • After 20 years off military presence in Afghanistan, allies are growing increasingly war weary.

  • They have been successful in defeating Al Qaeda by had to realize they didn't have the capacity to reengineer Afghanistan.

  • They want to coordinate their next steps, knowing that the price for leaving too soon could be very high.

  • Let's get some perspective on this.

  • We're joined now by K.

  • Clark, co director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

  • She joins us from London.

  • Welcome to the program we just heard there about all of the circumstances facing NATO that that we've just seen.

  • Um, Given all of that, is there any question that the alliance will topple this May 1st withdrawal deadline that the Trump Administration set and agreed with the Taliban?

  • I think it's quite quite likely.

  • I mean, one of the problems at the moment is there is no good option.

  • Um, the deal that Mr Trump and the Taliban reached was basically a withdrawal agreement on bond.

  • To get the Taliban even to the table, America had to give away a great deal.

  • So it agreed that the Afghan government would release five Taliban prisoners.

  • Um, it's basically agreed to remove the Taliban's major enemy from the battlefield, which is the U.

  • S.

  • Military on the Taliban was required to do very, very little on dim the last year since the agreement was signed, they've been gradually and systematically and quite cleverly, ramping up the war.

  • So if the foreign troops leave now that that lead, that takes the main deterrent from Taliban from Afghanistan.

  • But, as your correspondent said, if the foreign troops stay on, the Taliban may well up the ante.

  • And it's not so much a danger for foreign troops.

  • Although they would be the the ostensible target for the Taliban, they have been attacking them for the last year.

  • But they could, for example, returned toe major terrorist atrocities in the urban areas, for example, or try to take provincial provincial centers.

  • Okay, eso upping the ante, you say, could really have, ah, human cost.

  • In fact, we know that you've reported from Afghanistan.

  • Indeed, for a while you were, um, the only Western journalists who was stationed there full time.

  • You know, we we hear about the challenges to a sustainable path to peace in the country, which has has really eluded the country's people.

  • Do you see any signs for hope?

  • Right now, it's grim.

  • It's really, really grim on.

  • It's not because everyone in Afghanistan wants the war to continue.

  • This is not a war with popular support for either side.

  • You know, this is not a place where people cheer on when their enemies get attacked.

  • This is a place where most Afghans want peace on.

  • Actually, that includes many within the Taliban, or at least some within the Taliban who were very hopeful about a negotiated settlement.

  • Those hopes have been dashed because the Taliban have taken such a a line where, where in they are pursuing military victory They talk in Doha heart, but without really any conviction.

  • Ah, on we've seen in the way that they have intensified the war, that they're very, very keen on the military option.

  • Of course, for NATO Andi, other partners of Afghanistan, of the Afghan government, that raises a raises, dilemmas.

  • But once which a military there isn't really a military solution at the moment.

  • If the Taliban continue in the way that they doing, there will be civil war, especially with the foreign forces.

  • With that sobering assessment Um, Kate Clark, we thank you so much for joining us to share that expertise.

  • As we mentioned.

  • Um, you're from the Afghanistan analysts network.

  • Thanks for joining us on DW news for more.

  • Now we're joined by Ben Hodges in Frankfurt.

  • He's retired US Lieutenant General and now the Pershing chair in strategic studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis.

  • Thanks for being with us, General Hodges.

  • What do you make of the possibility of the US and its NATO allies continuing their military presence in Afghanistan?

  • Well, thank you.

  • I think the most important thing is that the United States and the Alliance are signaling that Number one, we're going thio, consult together, decide together and act together, not a unilateral withdrawal by the United States.

  • I think I think this is very important.

  • Secondly, it is important that whatever the timing is, it's done in such a way that the Afghan government and the Afghan people are not left eso exposed.

  • And then finally, we have to address Pakistan.

  • We could be in Afghanistan for 1000 years, But if we don't address Pakistan and the safe haven that it gives to the Taliban, then we will never be able to defeat them.

  • Now.

  • NATO defense ministers are meeting today for the first time since Joe Biden took office.

  • As US president, Washington is the decisive player within the alliance.

  • What impact do you think that change of administration in Washington will have on NATO?

  • Well, let me.

  • Let me say this first.

  • The decisive part of NATO is the cohesion when all 30 members of the alliance stick together.

  • Uh, clearly, the new administration has eliminated all doubt or concerned about America's commitment to NATO America's commitment to Europe.

  • So for me, this is a breath of fresh air, knowing that nobody will question whether or not the United States is committed to the alliance.

  • The fact that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in his very first morning called Secretary John Stoltenberg Thio acknowledge and confirm the United States commitment to nego.

  • Well, NATO is preparing to update its strategic concept.

  • You know quite a bit about that.

  • What do you see as the main challenges facing NATO today?

  • Well, I think first of all, the alliance has to continue doing everything required to maintain cohesion, the respect for each other, the commitment each other.

  • This is This is really important because this is what our potential adversaries fear the most.

  • Is all 30 nations sticking together?

  • Uh, the Secretary general is talked about the need to prevent large capability gaps, especially with the growth and speed of technological change.

  • This is important, but I think The strategic concept is also about ensuring we have a strong European pillar.

  • Uh, not a European pillow.

  • Aziz.

  • The United States looks to China as its long term strategic rival.

  • And so the United States does not have the capacity to deter Russia containing Iran, protect global Commons and deal with a rising China led by the Chinese Communist Party.

  • So I think the alliance focusing on its core mission of deterrence and defense in Europe is really important.

  • General ologists.

  • Thank you very much for your insights.

  • That was retired us Lieutenant General Ben Hodges.

  • Thank you.

first NATO defense ministers meeting virtually today will take up the question of whether or not to withdraw from the Afghan war.

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Withdrawal or extended deployment? Nato defense ministers hold summit on Afghan war | DW News

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/02/17
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