By Arab News
US President Donald Trump is scheduled to deliver televised remarks Monday night in which he will inform the American public about the findings of a US policy review related to Afghanistan.
Several US media outlets are reporting that he will announce the addition of 4,000 military personnel to Afghanistan, which is routinely referred to as America’s “longest war.”
It is as yet unclear whether this addition constitutes a significant departure from the policies of the previous two administrations.
The US led an international military campaign that toppled the Taliban government following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
While the Trump administration has repeatedly said defeating Daesh is its top foreign policy priority, Afghanistan continues to be beset by political divisions, economic challenges and terrorist attacks that have targeted government institutions and US military forces.
Dr. Daniel Green, defense fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Arab News that the majority of the US forces that will reportedly be sent will likely play a supporting “logistical” role to Afghan security forces
Green, a veteran of the US military and the State Department, said he anticipates that Trump might enunciate a new approach to relations with Pakistan, whose “safe havens” have been a major cause of why the war effort in Afghanistan has lasted as long as it has.
He welcomed the administration’s review, saying Trump is “asking all the right questions.”
Thomas Johnson, a scholar on Afghanistan and professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, California, expressed deep skepticism about the impact 4,000 additional US military personnel would have in stabilizing the country.
He cited a host of political, economic and social challenges, many related to a lack of institutional capacity in Afghanistan.
Johnson noted a high rate of “desertions” among Afghan troops, and said the country is in dire “need of a political settlement.”
Trump’s remarks are likely to receive extensive attention in the US and abroad, coming in the aftermath of his controversial remarks related to violent protests that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, last week. The remarks Monday night will be his first that focus on a specific foreign policy matter.
When asked by Arab News if ending the conflict in Afghanistan is central to the Trump administration’s goal of defeating Daesh, Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington said: “Yes this is an important eastern flank in the main fight against Al-Qaeda and ISIS(Daesh).” Thus, it is important that we don’t lose it, he said.
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