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Afghanistan’s neighbors fear refugee crisis if U.S. pulls out

Afghanistan’s neighbors fear refugee crisis if U.S. pulls out

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KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s neighbors, caught off-guard by experiences of U.S. plans to withdraw 1000’s of troops, have begun getting ready for the danger pullout might ship tons of of 1000’s of refugees fleeing throughout their borders, diplomats say.

An Afghan Nationwide Military (ANA) soldier retains watch at a examine level on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan December 31, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Alarmed by the presumably of a chaotic withdrawal, diplomats from neighboring international locations who’ve been in talks with U.S. officers in Kabul stated they had been reassessing insurance policies and would ramp up border preparations.

“At this level there is no such thing as a readability concerning the withdrawal, however we’ve got to maintain a transparent motion plan prepared,” stated a senior Asian diplomat primarily based in Kabul. “The scenario can flip from unhealthy to worse in a short time.”

A White Home spokesman final week stated U.S. President Donald Trump had not issued orders to the Pentagon to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. However the administration has not denied experiences that the US plans to drag out nearly half of the 14,000-strong power presently deployed.

The experiences come amid an intensification of strikes towards peace negotiations in Afghanistan. U.S. particular envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met Taliban representatives final month and mentioned points round a future troop withdrawal in addition to proposals for a ceasefire.

However even amongst regional powers resembling Iran, Pakistan or Russia which have lengthy been suspicious that the US desires everlasting army bases in South Asia, there is no such thing as a urge for food for a sudden U.S. withdrawal, say analysts.

“Whereas the information of a possible U.S. drawdown could also be a purpose for cautious optimism within the area, they don’t need an abrupt withdrawal,” stated Graeme Smith, a guide for the Worldwide Disaster Group.

“All sides acknowledge precipitous pullout might spark a brand new civil conflict that destabilizes the area. The neighbors don’t take pleasure in surprises, and the unsure alerts from Washington are inflicting nervousness.”

The US, which despatched troops to Afghanistan within the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 assaults on New York and Washington and on the peak of the deployment had greater than 100,000 troops within the nation, withdrew most of its forces in 2014, however nonetheless retains round 14,000 troops there as a part of a NATO-led mission aiding the Afghan safety forces and looking militants.

The highest U.S. common in Afghanistan stated 2019 was going to be an attention-grabbing yr.

“The coverage evaluation is occurring in a number of capitals, peace talks on the market, regional gamers urgent for peace, the Taliban speaking about peace, the Afghan authorities speaking about peace,” stated Normal Scott Miller, the U.S. commander of Afghanistan’s NATO-led power, on the Resolute Assist mission headquarters in Kabul.


Pakistan, which was already working to fence its 1,400 km (870 miles) frontier with Afghanistan and deploy a 50,000-strong paramilitary power alongside the border, is getting ready for a recent inflow of refugees within the occasion of dysfunction.

“Camps shall be arrange close to the border to handle a recent wave of Afghan refugees and unlawful migrants and Afghans is not going to be allowed to arrange unlawful properties in Pakistan,” stated an official, talking on situation of anonymity.

Afghanistan, which shares borders with Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China, is already the world’s second greatest supply of refugees, in keeping with the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees.

The Worldwide Group for Migration (IOM) estimates that roughly 1.four million undocumented Afghans stay in Pakistan and presumably 1.2 million in Iran.

Whereas 1000’s of undocumented Afghans had been pushed out of Iran by current political and financial turbulence, Iranian officers in Kabul stated they concern a sudden U.S. troop withdrawal might reverse that pattern.

“We’re working intently with the Afghan authorities to cease Afghans from getting into our nation. We don’t wish to use violence to cease them, however a sudden U.S. pullout will result in a disaster,” stated an Iranian official.

Afghanistan doesn’t share a land border with Turkey, however Afghans enter Turkey from Iran to work as shepherds, farmers or within the building sector. Many use it as a transit level to attempt to enter Europe.

“We’ve got not closed our door however the variety of unlawful migrants is rising every day,” stated Mehmet Ozgur Sak, the second secretary on the Turkish embassy in Kabul.

In 2018, Turkish police say they intercepted 90,000 Afghans who had been attempting to enter the nation with faux paperwork or with the assistance of traffickers, double the quantity in 2017.

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As negotiations over the way forward for the nation collect momentum, the Taliban have been attempting to reassure Afghans that they don’t have anything to concern after international forces depart.

However there are Afghans who refuse to belief the Taliban’s new stance. Sayed Rafi Sadat, a scholar in western Herat province, stated the Taliban would impose harsh legal guidelines to destroy democracy.

“If U.S. troops withdraw then there is no such thing as a hope for the long run and we must depart the nation,” he stated.

Further reporting by Storay Karimi in Herat; Enhancing by Alex Richardson

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

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