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US troop extension hands Afghanistan a lifeline – for now

An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier stands guard outside Jalalabad Airport where a US C-130 military transport plane crashed in Jalalabad on October 2, 2015The United States’ decision to extend its military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2016 has thrown the war-ravaged country’s government a much needed lifeline even as its dysfunctionality, blamed for the Taliban’s revival, shows no signs of abating. It has been just over a year since Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as president as part of a US-brokered unity government with his main election rival, former anti-Soviet fighter Abdullah Abdullah, as chief executive. US President Barack Obama’s decision to keep 5,500 troops beyond 2016 has therefore been met with widespread relief by officials and residents, who hope it will prevent the country from becoming a regional hub of terror and violence like Syria.

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