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Collapse of U.S.-Trained Iraqi Army Raises Questions About Afghanistan

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The United States has “a willing partner in the next Afghan president, whichever one it is,” said Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove last week. He said he was “extremely confident” that Afghanistan and the United States would be able to reach an agreement to keep in Afghanistan the 9,800 U.S. troops slated to remain there past the end of the year, when the NATO-led mission in the country officially ends.

But the U.S. footprint in the country is shrinking, and if Breedlove’s confidence is misplaced, the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan could soon go to zero. The U.S. has so far been unable to conclude with the Afghan government the bilateral security agreement required to allow U.S. troops to remain in the country after 2014. The difficulty the Obama administration has faced in securing such an agreement has worrying parallels to Iraq, where the administration failed to reach a similar agreement with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and withdrew its troops from the country completely at the end of 2011. ...

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