US Envoy for Anti-Daesh Coalition Reportedly Resigns Over Syria Pullout

Brett McGurk the US envoy for the global coalition against IS speaks during a news conference at the US Embassy in Baghdad Iraq in 2017

Brett McGurk, the United States envoy to the global coalition fighting Daesh, has resigned in protest to President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw USA troops from Syria, officials who saw his resignation letter said on Saturday. Trump said Islamic State had been defeated there so it was time to withdraw U.S. forces. "If the few thousand foreign troops that advise, train and assist leave, it will not affect our security", he said.

"This likely would cause the general collapse of the (Afghan National Security and Defence Force) as a cohesive fighting force and lead to the return of the warlords".

A pullout of American troops from Afghanistan could embolden the resurgent Taliban and worsen the deteriorated security situation, several former Afghan officials said Friday in response to reports that the USA would remove half of its forces in the coming weeks.

Just days earlier, McGurk had stood at the State Department podium to guarantee an ongoing USA commitment to the fight.

"The last thing it (Pakistan) wants is a radical state on its Western border, even if that eliminates or reduces Indian influence in Afghanistan", said Shuja Nawaz, author and fellow at the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center. In an October Pew Research Center poll, 49 percent of respondents said the USA has "mostly failed" in Afghanistan, while 16 percent said they weren't sure.

FILE - Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani (R) and USA special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad (L), meet in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 10, 2018. Afghan security forces can defend the country, Haroon Chakhansuri, President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman, told local media.

"And we should take action", he clarified, "whether that's through the appropriations process, whether that's through a War Powers Resolution, or whether it's through some other authorization of force, revoking that and making clear that there is no authorization in Afghanistan". Both sides described the dialogue as productive and promised to meet again in the Gulf country.

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Afghanistan's security forces rely heavily on USA air power against both the Taliban and an upstart Islamic State affiliate, and Afghan military officials noted the announcement by the Trump administration comes as the country's security is at its worst since 2014.

"Our goal is not to have permanent military bases in Afghanistan".

"The conditions in Afghanistan - at the present moment - make American troop withdrawals a high risk strategy".

Graham's resolution, a direct rebuke to Trump's Wednesday announcement that he would withdraw American troops from Syria, would not have the force of law behind it, and it won't get a vote this year.

It is now unclear what will happen to those fighters after the US troops withdraw, and whether the USA will continue to carry out air strikes in support of them. There is also concern about abandoning the U.S.' Kurdish allies. "There will be a significant withdrawal", the American official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A Taliban official said the announcement is a positive step which could "lead to trust building that the United States wants a political solution".

Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS Brett McGurk submitted his resignation, The New York Times reported Saturday. "Doubtful the Taliban will reciprocate with its own concession", Kugelman tweeted.

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