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Obama Mulls over Afghan Withdrawal

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TEHRAN, June 9 (ICANA) – US President Barack Obama is expected to soon make an announcement about the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan as the July deadline is approaching.
Thursday, June 09, 2011 10:16:47 PM
Obama Mulls over Afghan Withdrawal

Earlier in April, Obama emphasized the July withdrawal “will be significant” after his civilian advisors recommended him that if he wants to be re-elected next year, he should demonstrate a robust withdrawal, a Press TV correspondent reported on Wednesday.

However, top military officials like Defense Secretary Robert Gates have advised Obama to pull a few support units from Afghanistan, but keep as many as combat soldiers as long as possible or lose what Gates called fragile gains against the Taliban.

In December 2009, Obama promised that the US would start to pull its troops out of Afghanistan in July 2011. The White House later announced that a sizeable contingent of combat troops would remain in Afghanistan until at least 2014.

The general in charge of training Afghan soldiers, Lieutenant General William Caldwell, says NATO is on track to train 300,000 Afghan police and soldiers, but admitted that so far only 1 of 84 Afghan battalions is ready.

“It's part of a strategic partnership that NATO is looking at having with the Afghan government. We will be probably the lead element within that in terms of what we would continue doing much further to help them,” Caldwell said.

The cost of the war, the death of US combat troops on an almost daily basis, and with the public opinion solidly against continuing the 10-year conflict, Obama is under intense pressure to make a dramatic pullout announcement in July more so because of domestic politics than military strategy.

“The reports we've got from our sources is that Obama is totally focused on the re-election campaign in 2012 so in terms of policy, what he is going to do is whatever he thinks will gain him advantage in 2012 whether makes military sense or strategic sense or diplomatic sense or not,” said Carl Osgood, an analyst at Executive Intelligence Review.

Top US commander David Petraeus is to give Obama a report on his recommendations, but he has already indicated it would be a tactical mistake to reduce US troops on the ground next month.

This seems to fly in the face of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's will, who is repeatedly calling on Washington to reduce its military presence in Afghanistan, particularly due to the death of hundreds of civilians in US operations.

But many political analysts say Obama knows he must make a significant gesture on Afghanistan to increase his chances for re-election.

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