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US military withdrawals

US military withdrawals

It is almost confirmed that the US administration is set to withdraw its forces from two countries ravaged by war and civil strife – Syria and Afghanistan. The US forces entered Syria towards the end of 2014, when the Syrian people rose in revolt, seeking an emancipation from the dictatorship that had been ruling over them for decades and the internal conflict turned into civil war, together with the terrorist organization of IS tightening its grip over the country.

America entered the scene by lending military support to the dissident force (Syrian Democratic Front) fighting against President Bashar Al-Assad on the one hand and by carrying out aerial attacks against the IS strongholds on the other. This 'intervention' killed at least 3,740 civilians and over 2,000 IS terrorists, as per official figures. It is another matter that in spite of three years into the operation, the military action has not been able to either end the massacre by Bashar or eke out IS completely. In the matter of Afghanistan, in September 2001 the US military set out on its 'War on Terror' in Afghan land. The demands America put forward one a half decades ago however still remain unfulfilled. What Afghan president said recently was that at least 20 security men are getting killed by extremists every day. In other words, it is when both these countries are nowhere near a political or military solution and are continuing in absolute insecurity, that the Trump administration is trying to wriggle out of the political morass by declaring a military withdrawal.

In normal course, military withdrawal by an occupying force from any occupied country should be welcomed by all for the simple reason that such withdrawals will pave the way from a world of fear of war and conflict to a haven of peace. But Trump's retreat cannot be classified under that category, as is made clear by the statements including by Pentagon. For, the very first to react in protest against the decision to withdraw from Syria with a resignation, was none other than the boss of Pentagon, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis. Although his resignation letter stops short of saying plainly that the Syrian issue was the reason for his resignation, one can easily see in it indications of the difference of opinion within the Republican Party. Following Mattis, came the resignation of Brett McGurk, the US diplomat who used to co-ordinate the anti-IS operations in Syria, also out of disagreement with Trump's stances. Currently 2,000 US forces are on duty in Syria. And calling them back, as Trump himself explained, was not because they had defeated IS, but as part of cost-cutting. It is for the same reason that almost half of the 14,000 armed men in Afghanistan are being called back. As such, this is a purely temporary decision due US's own economic compulsions; it is not a correction of an imperialist power's policy towards war and occupation all these years.

If in Afghan it was the chase after Taliban that was put forward as the reason, In Syria the US bombing in Syrian cities including Damascus and Idlib were conducted by citing the use of chemical weapons by Bashaar's forces. The net balance of the whole exercise is only the number of lives the aerial attacks destroyed in the process and multiple hundred times of the same number being displaced and rendered homeless. This military action did not have the endorsement of UN either. What more, when President Barack Obama sent forces to Syria at that time, that did not have the backing of even the American Congress. The same policy was pursued by Trump with greater intensity. It is the same Trump who is now preparing to withdraw the forces without consulting even his own close aides. It may also be noted that all this is happening when the peace talks of US delegates with Taliban leaders are progressing. As per reports, the talks with Taliban held at Dubai last week were successful. The earlier two rounds of talks held at Doha had raised hopes. That is to say that these peace negotiations do convey the feeling that in the land of the biggest conflict of South Asia, peace is not that far. At this juncture, a unilateral withdrawal of US forces is sure to break the morale of Afghan forces which may worsen the situation. Thus the doubt of some observers whether Trump would be aiming at another occupation under that cover, would not be out of place. The suspicion is whether US is using the same old, vicious imperialist strategy of perpetuating occupation by letting one conflict beget another. One thing is certain: the situation of either of these countries is not going to be ease up through this step. On the contrary, it will only get complicated further. Therefore, the US move will give the world a time filled with more anxiety than solace.

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