Donald Trump signals the withdrawal of American troops deployed abroad, while considering a missile strike or a cyber attack against the Iranian nuclear site of Natanz.
According to New York Times, the outgoing President on Thursday, November 12, asked several collaborators, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chief of Staff Mark Milley, “If he had options to act in the next weeks “. Mike Pompeo and Mark Milley would have sought to dissuade him by describing the risk of being drawn into a larger conflict.
A “wall of sanctions” against Tehran
Donald Trump polled his advisers after a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicated that Tehran was continuing to produce enriched uranium in violation of the 2015 agreement, abandoned by the United States. United in 2018.
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By January 20, the date of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, the Trump administration wants to build a “Wall of sanctions” against Iran which would prevent the future Democratic administration from going back. US officials fear an Iranian attack on US targets around January 3, the anniversary of the US strike against Qassim Suleimani, the commander of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard force. Mike Pompeo recently said the death of an American was a red line that could provoke a military response.
Still guided by the obsession with distinguishing himself from his predecessor Barack Obama, the outgoing president is preparing to order the withdrawal of thousands of American troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. Before leaving office, Donald Trump intends to use his powers to remain in history as the one who brought the country out of the “Endless wars”.
US forces in Afghanistan would be reduced from 4,500 troops to between 2,000 and 2,500 troops. In Iraq, the Pentagon would reduce its contingent level from 3,000 to 2,500. In Somalia, almost all of the more than 700 troops present are expected to leave.
Afghan security forces under pressure
The withdrawal from Afghanistan comes as Afghan security forces are under pressure from the Taliban in the south and north of the country. Uncertainty leads local political leaders to strike deals with the Taliban and October was the deadliest month for civilians since September 2019 with more than 200 killed. This accelerated withdrawal will reduce the options of the Biden administration, and risk further undermining the peace talks in Qatar between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which is currently at an impasse.
The reduction of the US contingent could also result in a similar movement for the NATO force, around 7,000 men in charge of training government forces. A precipitous withdrawal from NATO would have a “Very high price”, with the risk of seeing this country “To become a base again for international terrorists” Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Tuesday, November 17.
In Somalia, the withdrawal of special forces present in the country for a training, advisory and counterterrorism mission, in the face of fighters from the Salafist jihadist group al-Chabab comes at a delicate time: legislative elections are scheduled for December and a presidential election in early February.
The resistance of the Pentagon and Congress
White House orders are provoking strong resistance in the Pentagon and Congress.
Shortly before his sacking last week by Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper sent a confidential note expressing his concerns over too rapid a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
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« A rapid withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan will offend our allies and cheer those who wish us evil ”Said, for his part, Monday, November 16, Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican majority in the Senate. “The consequences of an early departure would probably be worse than the withdrawal from Iraq decided by President Obama in 2011, which fueled the rise of Daesh and a new wave of global terrorism ».