Ally McConnell Lambasts Trump for Plans to Pull Out US Troops from Iraq, Afghanistan
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been a close ally of outgoing President Donald Trump, has criticized him for potential plans to cut dramatically the number of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
McConnell’s criticism of Trump came on Monday, November 16, 2020, over media reports that the US President might announce this week substantial withdrawal of American forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to the reports, before he is due to step down on January 20, 2021, to be replaced by Joe Biden, Trump wants to bring back some 2,000 more US troops from Afghanistan and 500 more US troops from Iraq.
That would leave about 2,500 US troops in each of the two countries, a number that US military offices consider insufficient to maintain stability.
The United States has been military involved in Afghanistan since 2001 when it targeted the Taliban regime in the wake of Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC.
American forces have been in Iraq since the spring of 2003 when they toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein over allegations that he owned weapons of mass destruction.
Both wars started under former Republican President George W. Bush have been initiated as his so called “war on terror”.
The US Department of Defense has not confirmed the recent media reports that outgoing President Donald Trump intended to reduce drastically the number of US forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Even though he has refused to concede and his team is disputing the 2020 presidential election results, Trump is considered to have lost his reelection bid to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.
Speaking on Monday, US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a top-ranking Republican, warned Trump that potential major American troop reductions in Iraq and Afghanistan would present “big propaganda victory” for extremists.
“The consequences of a premature US exit would likely be even worse than president Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq back in 2011, which fueled the rise of ISIS and a new round of global terrorism,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
“It would be reminiscent of the humiliating America departure from Saigon in 1975,” he added, using a reference to the Vietnam War, as cited by AFP and France24.
The Republican Senate chief made clear his understanding that any pullout at the present stage would mean that the US would be “abandoning” its partners, and would “delight the people who would wish us harm.”
He fears a troop withdrawal would leave room for the Taliban to take control of Afghanistan once again, and would allow the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda to rebuild.
“The spectacle of US troops abandoning facilities and equipment, leaving the field in Afghanistan to the Taliban and ISIS, would be broadcast around the world as a symbol of US defeat and humiliation, and a victory for Islamic extremism,” McConnel stated.
“It would hand a weakened and scattered Al-Qaeda a big, big propaganda victory and a renewed safe haven for plotting attacks against America,” he added.
Since his election campaign in 2016, Trump has been vowing to end America’s wars abroad. In October 2020, shortly before the presidential election, he said he wanted to bring American forces home “by Christmas”.
Later his National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien clarified that would mean leaving only 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan as of January 2021.