RE The US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan formally commenced on July 13, with departure of 650 members of Iowa National Guards 1st Squadron belonging to 113th Cavalry. The troops that were to originally replace the 113th Cavalry as a sequel to completion of their tenure in Afghanistan have since been reassigned to Kuwait.
The handing over ceremony took place under a makeshift tent erected over a basketball court. The 113th Cavalry was part of the 30,000 troop surge that was often referred to change the course of the war against Taliban. It is still unclear to-date whether the troops surge did succeed or not but the withdrawal has certainly started.
The commencement of withdrawal, though sequential, has started to blow back as the violence has escalated in Afghanistan. The targeted killings of Afghan senior officials and leaders are part of the escalation. Last couple of months saw important Afghan personalities eliminated as a prelude to chaos and anarchy that lies in store for Afghans if the US troops continue to be pulled out in haste without giving Afghan led talks efforts with Taliban a chance to succeed.
Gunmen killed a top advisor to Afghan President; Jan Mohammad Khan and a member of parliament Hashim Watanwal on last week. Earlier, Presidents own half brother Ahmad Wali Karzai was also killed by one of his security man on July 12, in a major set back to US/NATO and Afghan government. Similarly, Police Chief Daud Daud was also murdered last month.
Obamas speedy withdrawal plan that would see 10,000 US soldiers quit Afghanistan by the year-end and another 23000 by next year will have adverse regional consequences specially not only for Afghanistan and Pakistan but also for other regional countries as well. The US agenda for which Afghanistan was initially invaded would remain unfinished as in the case of Britain and Russia, the other two powers that ventured and left Afghanistan without completing their agendas. American stint will go down in the history as another 'American Legacy.
On the other hand, Afghan security forces will not be comfortable in taking over the security as being under-prepared. Taliban will probably have more room to manoeuvre politically and strategically in Afghanistan to enable them to continue countering strong US - India axis in Afghanistan after the complete withdrawal.
As 2014 creeps in, the western media campaign citing Pakistans north as safe heaven of Al-Qaedas affiliated groups and the fact that US troops have surged in Afghanistans eastern borders with Pakistan, indicate Americas immediate designs in this region that may ultimately undermine peace process with Taliban. The excessive drone attacks in the tribal Pakistan have only gone to alienate those Taliban groups whom Pakistan and Afghanistan considered vital for peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The end-game Afghanistan will be a game changer for other regional countries as well. Tajikistan remains fragile as Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) with its close links with Al-Qaeda and Taliban carry lot of influence in that country. Russia mulls to redeploy its troops on Tajikistan and Afghanistan borders to restrain terrorists. Kyrgyzstans south remains in turmoil, and so does Uzbekistans Ferghana Valley both of which remain plagued with ethnic tensions. The 2431-Km long border with Central Asian states, preventing Afghan Taliban from cross border activities has never been easy. American withdrawal, if not compensated with Russian troops inside these Central Asian states, would provide space to Taliban and the respective ethnic groups for more violence thereby creating political instability. China and Russia have always remained weary of US presence in this region.
A certain void will be created in Afghanistan upon completion of the withdrawal in 2014. To fill the void, regional countries would vie to influence Afghanistan. To counter the aftermath, America plans to place some 25,000 troops in the name of counter terrorism in Afghanistan beyond 2014 and to oversee the Afghan development through a 'Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghan government. The speedy wrapping up of decade old war in Afghanistan would leave US with an unfinished agenda that would plunge the country in deep turmoil and anarchy after it quits from there. It is need of the hour that the US should make its designs clear on Afghan stability and take Pakistan onboard to ensure that its billions of dollars spent on Afghan war do contribute in making Afghanistan a peaceful and a sustainable state.