US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has announced the reduction of US aid to Afghanistan’s security forces by $1 billion which would hamper efforts by the Afghan government to combat the Taliban and weaken its negotiating position.
The announcement follows Pompeo’s visit to Afghanistan where he spoke with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his political rival Abdullah Abdullah. During his trip, he was unable to resolve a dispute over Afghanistan’s September 2019 presidential election where both men claimed victory and held rival inaugurations. This has led to a political deadlock and has prevented the selection of an Afghan delegate to engage in peace to negotiate with the Taliban.
Currently, the Taliban, after two decades of conflict, maintain control over 40% of Afghan’s territory. Reuters reports that the $1 billion would come from a $4.2 billion Pentagon fund which underwrites about three-quarters of the Afghan security forces annual budget. Mike Pompeo states that he will reverse the cut if both leaders are able to resolve their dispute but has warned a similar cut may be made next year.
The US’s stated policy is for an eventual withdrawal of its troops from the region.
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