Tuesday, 26 October, 2021


USA to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by September 11

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Kristine Garrett | 14 April, 2021, 04:37

The President is deeply grateful for the honour, courage and determination of the US' men and women who served in Afghanistan for nearly two decades, as well as the sacrifices made not just by those troops, but also by their families, a senior Biden administration official told reporters during a conference call. "Precipitously withdrawing USA forces from Afghanistan is a grave mistake".

Biden will make an announcement on Wednesday that all USA forces, in coordination with those of Western allies, will leave other than limited personnel to guard United States diplomatic installations, the official said.

"We are not staying for a long time".

"The president deeply believes that in contending with the threats and challenges of 2021, as opposed to those of 2001, we need to be focusing our energy. on those threats and challenges that are most acute for the United States", the official said, citing competition with China, the coronavirus pandemic and the more distributed threat of terrorism.

For Afghans the fighting will likely grind on. If the coalition withdraws support, the report says, the Afghan government will struggle to control the Taliban. Tellingly, he added, "And if we leave, we're going to do so in a safe and orderly way".

USA commanders have previously expressed opposition to withdrawing, warning that without a peace deal negotiated between the Taliban and the Afghani government, the Taliban could retake key cities, including the capital, Kabul, should American forces leave the Afghanistan Army to fight alone.

The U.S. will coordinate with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and partners about a drawdown of their forces within that same time frame, the official said, and has told the Taliban that any attacks on U.S. troops during that process will "be met with a forceful response".

The Biden official said that the withdrawal would begin in May and that the delay was largely logistic, with troops possibly out of Afghanistan well before September 11.

The threat assessment report published Tuesday by the director of national intelligence said the Taliban "is confident it can achieve military victory".

Although the Taliban, a hardline Islamist movement, stopped attacks on global forces as part of the historic agreement, it has continued to fight the Afghan government. The Taliban, who enforce an austere brand of Sunni Islam, banned women from school, offices, music and most of daily life during its 1996-2001 rule over much of Afghanistan. Bin Laden was killed in a US SEAL team raid in neighbouring Pakistan in May 2011, but US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces remained in Afghanistan to help prop up the Kabul government against the Taliban insurgency.

"We judged the threat against the homeland now emanating from Afghanistan to be at a level that we can address it, without a persistent military footprint in the country and without remaining at war with the Taliban", the official said.

But many observers believe that the Taliban think they have already effectively won and can wait out the U.S. withdrawal, as little progress has come out of on-off talks in Qatar.

The April 24-May 4 conference "will focus on helping the negotiating parties reach a set of shared, foundational principles that reflect an agreed vision for a future Afghanistan, a roadmap to a future political settlement and an end to the conflict", the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

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