US tentatively agrees to leave some troops in Afghanistan

Top US commanders believe they have tentative White House approval to leave just over 4,000 US troops in Afghanistan beyond November, delaying a full American pullout until after the presidential election

Iran PressAmerica: The plan, worked out at a meeting between Pentagon and White House officials late last month, would represent an about-face for President Trump. He has pushed for a complete withdrawal of the 8,600 troops now in Afghanistan by the election, seeing a pullout as a much-needed foreign policy achievement as his reelection prospects have deteriorated.

"Trump had only recently told advisors that a full and rapid pullout could blunt the controversy over intelligence reports that Russia has paid militants to kill American service members," one official said.

"The president, who has made clear that he cares little about conditions in Afghanistan, could still order a full withdrawal by November if he decides it would help him in the election," officials said.

But Pentagon officials warned over what they called plunging Afghanistan into crisis after a complete withdrawal over the next five months.

Marine Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the top commander in the Middle East, said last month that he could not recommend a full withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan until the Taliban demonstrates it no longer supports Al Qaeda forces there.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext of fighting terrorism and maintaining security, but since then, insecurity, terrorism, and drug production have grown significantly in Afghanistan. 207

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