Sen. Levin: Afghan protests will spark greater public push for withdrawal

President Obama plans to withdraw the last 23,000 surge troops from Afghanistan this fall, after the first 10,000 left the country last year.

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But the recent violence in Afghanistan in the wake of the incidental burning of Qurans at a U.S. airbase — which has left four U.S. troops killed — has raised fresh questions about how quickly U.S. forces should leave and how prepared the Afghan Security Forces are to take over.

Republicans have blasted Obama for planning to withdraw troops too quickly, while some Democrats have called for a quicker drawdown.

Levin said the Obama administration has not announced withdrawal plans with surge troops leave later this year. NATO plans to hand off control of security to the Afghans by the end of 2014, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the U.S. combat mission could end next year.

Levin said the renewed violence in Afghanistan could have an impact on what happens after the surge troops leave.

“There’s general concern about obviously the events there…and how it would affect the drawdown plan after Sept. 30,” Levin said. “That will be a subject of real discussion.”

But Levin said that he hopes “there is no delay in that drawdown after Sept. 30.”