Afghanistan drawdown: Germany and France follow Obama's lead
US allies in Europe are mostly supportive of Obama's withdrawal plan, saying the time is right.
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Soon after Obama's announcement, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that France's 4,000 troops in Afghanistan would be withdrawn at a rate proportional to the US withdrawal, BBC reported. Germany, too, will begin a phased withdrawal of its 4,900 troops in the country, making its first reduction by the end of 2011, Al Jazeera reported. "The prospect of withdrawal is now becoming concrete," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in statement.Skip to next paragraph
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In Afghanistan, local leaders said that they worried the US was repeating the mistakes it made following the proxy war with the Soviets in the 1980s: bailing out before the country had a stable government. The American departure could give Pakistan's intelligence agency a window for exerting its influence across the border, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"Twenty years ago, they left Afghanistan after the Russians pulled out of Afghanistan and Afghanistan was controlled by the ISI," said Ghulam Haider Hamidi, mayor of Kandahar city. "We don't want to go back 20 years when they were making the decisions about Afghanistan."
But Afghan government representatives were more supportive. President Hamid Karzai said it was an important step in the process of "liberty for Afghanistan." His deputy national security adviser said, "It is time to shift from a military solution to a political solution."
"The Taliban will consider this as softness from Americans," said Mr. Zaeef. "This is the culture of Afghans. If somebody goes hard with Afghans they go hard, but if somebody goes soft they go soft with them. [The] Taliban will also show some softness."