Rest easy, international community. It would appear that, despite some rather strong words on the part of French President Nicholas Sarkozy last week, the country is not going to pull out of Afghanistan immediately.
GlobalSpin reports that the French will likely remain a military presence in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future:
“Despite suggestions-cum-threats by French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week that he’d consider pulling France’s nearly 3,900 forces out of Afghanistan in response to the killing of four French troops by an Afghan army soldier, officials in Paris are now making it clear a hasty withdrawal isn’t an option. Meantime, a report in le Monde indicates Sarkozy’s other reaction to the shootings—ordering the immediate suspension of French training and joint patrol with Afghan army forces—was never actually applied on ground. As a result, pundits who suspected Sarkozy’s dramatic response to last week’s fatalities was mainly designed to give a patriotic lift to his depressed-looking re-election chances are feeling rather vindicated right now.”
Sarkozy’s kneejerk response to the deaths of four French soldiers last week had many in the international community concerned that French troops would be out of the country early. But the Associated Press is reporting that, although troops will remain, France is joining other countries like the US and Canada in pulling back its forces:
“Prime Minister Francois Fillon told parliament Tuesday that France is keeping to plans to withdraw 600 troops this year — in line with a previous schedule pegged in part to a gradual U.S.-led withdrawal by 2014.
France currently has about 3,900 troops in Afghanistan. France, the fourth-largest national contingent in the NATO-led force, has lost 92 troops since 2001. The total alliance death toll is nearly 2,560 — mostly Americans.
French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet, who traveled to Afghanistan right after the killings, is preparing a report for Sarkozy on what happened before the French leader specifies any new plans for the drawdown.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai will travel to France this week to sign a partnership agreement with the French government:
“French Prime Minister François Fillon told Parliament that Mr. Sarkozy ‘will announce the conclusions of this evaluation, after having shared them with President Karzai.'”
What do you think? Is this a war France should be involved in?
Read more about political posturing in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique!