The Donald Trump-led United States administration is considering a substantial reduction of USA troops in Afghanistan, the media reported. This set the stage for the Taliban's eventual takeover of the country.
Asked whether the president had given any indication he intends to pull troops out of Afghanistan, Sen.
Trump privately has complained about United States military involvement in Afghanistan, telling an ally as recently as Wednesday words to the effect of, "What are we doing there?"
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Trump's defence secretary, Jim Mattis, announced his resignation from his post. And the decision on Afghanistan and perhaps Syria was a nail in the coffin.
The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it has started returning USA troops home from Syria after claiming a victory in the fight against the Islamic State. However, this is something which can not be done overnight when you have multiple state actors engaged with you or for their own interests to see a calm and peaceful resolution to the conflict situation. More than 2,400 American soldiers have also died in Afghanistan since the 2001 US -led invasion.
A third official told ABC News that discussions have been underway for several weeks about how to withdraw some USA troops from Afghanistan.
The United States has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of a Nato-led mission, known as Resolute Support, and a USA counter-terrorism mission largely directed against groups such as Islamic State and al Qaeda.
It is not clear if USA peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad or the Afghan government had been aware of Trump's plans. The Taliban insurgency has strengthened its grip over the past three years, with the government in Kabul controlling just 56% of Afghanistan, down from 72% in 2015, a USA government report showed. "We train them to the best of our abilities", said a Western diplomat from a Resolute Support member.More news: Judge: Weinstein Must Stand Trial
The consideration comes just one day after Trump announced he was pulling 2,000 US troops out of Syria within 30 days. Arguably, Washington's military presence in Afghanistan is one of the key bargaining chips which the country can use to negotiate some sort of end to the crisis.
A USA army crew chief flying on board a CH-47F Chinook helicopter observes the successful test of flares during a training flight in Afghanistan, on March 14, 2018.
Trump's decision could scuttle US efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict, analysts warn.
But she said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers met as recently as this month to express "steadfast commitment to ensuring long-term security and stability in Afghanistan".
Several high ranking Afghan military officials said the morale of Afghanistan's under-trained and poorly equipped security forces is already at a dangerously low ebb. "Many have been sharing their exit plans with us and now we could see them implement them", the official said. But a senior Taliban commander welcomed the decision.
On the other hand, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid stated the meetings shall continue after consultations by both sides with their respective leaderships. The action weakens the USA hand in negotiations, having made a concession and getting nothing in return.
Khalilzad said Taliban officials had told him "we can not defeat you" militarily and that Middle Eastern partners who are believed to have leverage with the Taliban and the Kabul government - including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - had proposed a three-month cease-fire as a starting point for negotiations.