Afghan officials have expressed solidarity with recent marks made by U.S. Senator John McCain, who, while visiting Afghanistan last week, argued against the calendar-based troop withdraw plan of the Barack Obama administration, instead suggesting the withdraw be based entirely on how conditions on the ground unfold.
Deputy presidential spokesman Sayed Zafar Hashimi on Sunday said that Afghanistan wants to see the foreign troop withdraw move forward on the basis of the country’s national security conditions, rather than arbitrary date-setting.
While speaking at a press conference in Kabul on Saturday, Senator McCain, who ran against Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, called the administration’s calendar-based troop withdraw a mistake. At the moment, while Obama administration officials have said the American government is willing to be flexible on the basis of how things unfold over the next couple years in Afghanistan, Washington has effectively set the deadline for the troop withdraw as the end of 2016.
“The president of Afghanistan, in the past, had also said that it would be better that the United States make the decision about the troop pullout with consideration of the current situation and war inside Afghanistan,” presidential spokesman Hashimi said Sunday. “However, it is the U.S. officials and U.S. government who will make the final decision.”
For those who have advocated a more cautious and tactical approach to the U.S. troop withdraw, McCain’s comments came as a welcome sign that there maybe more allies for their cause in Washington than previously thought.
“I think the most serious mistake that the United States could make – in a betrayal of the brave Americans who have served here and the brave Afghans who serve and have continued to sacrifice – would be to have a calendar-based withdraw,” McCain told reporters on Saturday. “That would be a tragedy, and, in my view, a door opening for the Taliban to gain great success here in Afghanistan, and I don’t believe that the people of Afghanistan want a return to Taliban governance,” he added.
There are currently 9,800 U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan, primarily in training and advising capacities. Based on the Obama plan, that number will be decreased to just 1,000 by the end of 2016, and they will provide security for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.