Afghan Analysts Differ on US Withdrawal Plan
 
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On the cusp of US President Barack Obama's annual State of the Union speech where he is expected to reveal plans for US military withdrawal from Afghanistan, Afghan experts are divided on what they hope the news holds.

Afghan National Army spokesman Zahir Azimi told TOLOnews that the national forces are prepared to secure the country in the Americans' place.

"Afghan forces are certainly prepared. When we say they are prepared to complete the transition process, it means there will be no big issue after the international forces withdraw from Afghanistan," he said Tuesday.

"If there is any war on terrorism, there is the capability from us to control the war and dominate the situation," he added.

However, military analyst Gen Noorulhaq Oloomi said an ongoing presence of US troops will be crucial to Afghanistan's future.

"If the foreign forces are not present in Afghanistan, our soldiers won't have their salaries, our vehicles will have no fuel, and our weapons will have no ammunition. Afghanistan has yet not thought through how to provide such things from the government's budget," he said.

Abdulhadi Khalid, former deputy of security at the Ministry of Interior, agreed saying that insurgents outside Afghanistan remain a great threat.

"The Afghan forces have progressed well, but it's necessary to have the US and its troops for another decade to sustainability and supporting the Afghan forces," he said.

Associated Press reported late Tuesday night that Obama is expected to announce a withdrawal of more than half of the 66,0000 US soldiers in Afghanistan at the moment.

According to an anonymous source, Obama plans to have 34,000 troops leave Afghanistan within the next year.

The news comes the same day that the Washington Post quoted Pentagon officials saying there could be around 8,000 US troops in Afghanistan after 2014 to help combat insurgency who will withdraw completely over a three-year period.

The State of the Union address will be given in Washington on Tuesday night (US time).

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