Despite pledging on numerous occasions that the U.S. government’s occupation of Afghanistan would end in 2014 with the withdrawal of American forces, the Obama administration is now finalizing a controversial scheme to potentially keep tens of thousands of soldiers and an undisclosed number of mercenaries there for a decade or more. Critics, even among supporters of the president, are expressing outrage about the revelations.
Of course, the scandal-plagued, Western-backed regime in Kabul would have to give its “consent” to the “bilateral” plot, but analysts say it has little choice other than to agree — absent U.S. military support, President Hamid Karzai’s government would almost certainly implode. Some experts cited in media reports said that to keep the ruling Afghan regime in power and the increasingly powerful Taliban at bay would actually require possibly as many as 30,000 American troops.
"The negotiations we just started today will be about the quantity, quality and the condition of the presence of American forces in Afghanistan after 2014," the Afghan regime’s ambassador to the U.S. government, Eklil Hakimi, told reporters recently after a meeting with James Warlick, Obama’s deputy “czar” for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Warlick echoed those remarks, saying the agreement would provide purported “legal authorities” for the U.S. government’s operations in the troubled nation known to history buffs as the “graveyard of empires.”
Unnamed Afghan officials claimed in statements to reporters that Karzai would back the arrangement only if Obama forced U.S. soldiers to submit to the regime’s jurisdiction. Iraq’s embattled new rulers, installed by Western powers in the wake of the U.S. government-led invasion and occupation, made similar demands. Even though Obama was willing to break his campaign pledge to withdraw American forces, the Iraqi conditions reportedly played a role in advancing the eventual American withdrawal.
In Afghanistan, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Obama oversaw the so-called “surge” strategy, widely viewed by analysts and experts as a miserable failure. From over 100,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan after the president’s surge, the number is now at about 65,000.
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