RFE/RL January 24, 2017
The Taliban has called on President Donald Trump to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan, saying it is a "quagmire" that has produced little but 15 years of destruction and death.
Trump has never stated what his policy is on Afghanistan, though he has said he supports U.S. troops stationed there and he appointed two former generals with extensive experience in Afghanistan to top security positions.
In an open letter to the new U.S. president published on a Taliban web page verified by the SITE Intelligence Group on January 23, the insurgent movement told Trump the United States has lost credibility after spending billions of dollars on a 15-year entanglement with no end in sight.
"The responsibility to bring to an end this war rests on your shoulders," it said.
The Taliban has repeatedly urged the United States and its allies to leave Afghanistan, ruling out peace talks with the Kabul government as long as foreign forces remain on Afghan soil.
While the United States sent tens of thousands of troops to Afghanistan when it first invaded in 2001 to oust Al-Qaeda, the number of U.S. forces in NATO's coalition this year has dwindled to 8,400.
Since coalition forces ended their main combat mission in 2014, the Taliban has made steady inroads against the Western-backed government in Kabul, with government forces now in control of only two-thirds of the country.
Trump's views on such foreign wars have been ambivalent. He has sharply criticized past U.S. administrations for their handling of conflicts in the Muslim world, but he has also pledged to eradicate militant Islamists around the globe.
Defense Secretary James Mattis and national-security adviser Michael Flynn both served terms in Afghanistan.
The Taliban in its letter warned Trump against relying on the "unrealistic" reports presented by such generals, saying "they would emphasize continuation of war and occupation of Afghanistan."
"You have to realize that the Afghan Muslim nation has risen up against foreign occupation," and if the United States chooses to extend its engagement there it faces "a historically shameful defeat," it said.
Afghanistan's chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, over the weekend said he is certain that "cooperation" will continue between Kabul and Washington under the Trump administration.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa
Source: http://www.rferl.org/a/taliban-calls -on-trump-withdraw-afghanistan -quagmire-/28253843.html