Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to the US has sparked a new debate on the future of Afghanistan which for centuries played a special role, remaining unconquered by superpowers repulsing offensives with old British rifles and Kalashnikov’s.
With America the last superpower to launch its own “Afghan project” more than 13 years ago under President George W. Bush, all eyes are focused on his successor, President Obama. The core question is whether Americans should entirely leave the country after last year’s pullout of the main contingent of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force or stay, and if so, in what numbers and with what mission yet to be accomplished.
Weeks before President Ghani’s visit which began Sunday, the Obama administration unveiled its new big Afghan surprise. First, it was Defense Secretary Ashton Carter who hinted that Washington might slow the pace of withdrawal for the remaining 10,600 American troops.The statement made by the Pentagon chief during a visit to Kabul was shortly followed by a leak from an administration official that President Obama is planning to abandon his initial plans to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan to 5,500 by the end of this year and wants to keep more troops in the country, including into the 2016 fighting season. It is expected that the details of the new security deal will be sealed during Ghani’s visit, which will be watched with keen interest all over the world.
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