Other observers worry that the ongoing withdrawal could threaten the government of the country’s new and pro-western leader, Ashraf Ghani.
“A premature U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan would put Afghanistan as well as U.S. security interests at risk,” Kai Eide, a former U.N. special representative to Afghanistan, wrote in an unpublished paper he shared with Foreign Policy. He wrote that Afghanistan’s new leader is confronting the “fragility of the political, security and economic situation and the danger of setbacks, fragmentation and more violence.”
“Recent developments in Iraq illustrate the danger of premature withdrawal,” he wrote. ”The risk of new instabilities that could threaten the progress made in Afghanistan and again turn the country into a safe haven for terrorists is real.”
Scott Smith, the director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, said that the big question Afghans will now be asking themselves is what kind of support will the U.S. continue to provide in Helmand and beyond. “Will the jungle grow over, or will the new government be able to fill the space?” he asked.