Brett McGurk, top USA envoy in ISIS fight, resigns

Brett McGurk, top USA envoy in ISIS fight, resigns

Many Afghans said reports that USA officials were developing plans to pull the troops out by summer - a sharp U-turn after Trump pumped more troops into combat duty in Afghanistan past year - would deliver a boost to the Taliban insurgency.

While President Trump has been harshly critical of his predecessor's decision to authorize that prisoner swap, he has left at least five Americans imprisoned in Tehran including 82-year-old Baquer Namazi. Trump expressed a desire to stop spending money and endangering US lives in Syria, preferring instead to leave responsibility for fighting ISIS there to Russian Federation and Iran.

In that year, more than 100,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops pulled out of the country and handed off security to Afghans. The Pentagon also has 25,239 private security contractors deployed in Afghanistan.

The decision will fulfill Trump's goal of bringing troops home from Syria, but military leaders have pushed back for months, arguing that the IS group remains a threat and could regroup in Syria's long-running civil war.

Afghan troops have struggled against the Taliban and have suffered consistently high casualties, even with USA troops and aircraft in support.

Graham would not entertain suggestions that Trump was motivated by Russian Federation or Turkey, who have some interest in seeing the USA military withdraw from the region - "I'm not going there", he said - but instead suggested that Trump was simply expressing a non-interventionist philosophy. The latest talks in the United Arab Emirates from December 17-19 were seen as the most significant yet.

Michael Kugelman, deputy director Asia program and South Asia senior associate at Washington's Wilson Center describe the timing of the USA drawdown plan as "breathtakingly bad", fearing the move could squander the latest effort to seek a negotiated settlement to the prolonged Afghan war. Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of President Trump, wrote on Twitter, "The conditions in Afghanistan - at the present moment - make American troop withdrawals a high risk strategy".


"Announcing a move like this now could squander the best chance to date to launch a peace process to end a war that has raged for far too long", says Kugelman, adding that Washington would lose a major bargaining chip in talks.

The Afghan president is facing increasing discontent and open opposition from key political backers, many of whom oppose or have publicly expressed doubt about talks with the Taliban. Afghan forces remain deeply reliant on US support to maintain current levels of control and protect cities vulnerable to Taliban capture.

Mattis and other top military advisors previous year persuaded Trump to commit thousands of new troops to Afghanistan, where the Taliban are slaughtering local forces in record numbers and making major territorial gains. This will leave the USA with its lowest number of troops in the country since 2002, alongside some 10,000 US citizens working as contractors.

If Trump's decision had been based on a settlement with the Taliban, that would be understandable, Ludin said, but he feared it was based on American politics again and would embolden the militants. The special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat Isis since 2015 was one of few Obama appointees to stay on under Trump. The Kabul government was not briefed on the plans.

"The recent decision by the president came as a shock and was a complete reversal of policy that was articulated to us", McGurk told his colleagues in an email. Robert Menendez speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol, Dec. 20, 2018.

Multiple reports say he made the Syria decision after talking with Turkish dictator Erdogan.

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