Analysis: NATO faces conundrum as it mulls Afghan pullout

ISLAMABAD (AP) – After 20 years of military engagement and billions of dollars spent, NATO and the United States still grapple with the same, seemingly intractable conundrum – how to withdraw troops from Afghanistan without abandoning the country to even more mayhem.

An accelerated U.S. drawdown over the past few months, led by the previous U.S. administration, has signaled what may be in store for long-suffering Afghans.

Violence is spiking and the culprits are, well, everyone: the Taliban, the Islamic State group, warlords, criminal gangs and corrupt government officials.

Currently, 2,500 U.S. and about 10,000 NATO troops are still in Afghanistan. NATO defense ministers will meet on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the way forward.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is reviewing his predecessor’s 2020 deal with the Taliban, which includes a May 1 deadline for a final U.S. troop withdrawal from the war-ravaged country. In Washington, calls are mounting for the U.S. to delay the final exit or renegotiate

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