Afghan Withdrawal Begins, but There's a Hitch

US begins withdrawal under deal with Taliban, but nation swears in 2 different presidents
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2020 8:03 AM CDT
It's a Historic but Confusing Day in Afghanistan
Abdullah Abdullah, second right, waves to well-wishers after he was sworn in as president during his inauguration ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan.   (AP Photo)

It's a milestone day in Afghanistan on two fronts, with developments that illustrate the complex challenges at play:

  • Withdrawal: The US began withdrawing its first troops under a peace deal struck with the Taliban last month, reports the BBC. The US currently has more than 12,000 troops there, and about a third of them would leave in the first phase, per CNN. If all goes as planned, the remaining US troops would be gone in 14 months. But there's a hitch:
  • Two presidents: As the withdrawals started, Afghanistan inaugurated two different presidents on Tuesday, reports the AP. One is Ashraf Ghani, who claimed victory in last year's election and was declared the victor by the nation's election commission. The other is Abdullah Abdullah, who says that election was tainted by fraud and plans to form his own government. The dueling presidencies add yet another wrinkle to the peace process, given that the next step is talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
(President Trump became the first US president to speak directly with the Taliban.)

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