According to official information, Biden is expected to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by September 11th
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: US forces patrol an Afghan National Army (ANA) base in Logar province, Afghanistan
By Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali and Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden has decided to withdraw remaining US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, 20 years after the day the al-Qaeda attacks sparked America’s longest war, according to U.S. Officials on Tuesday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are expected to announce the decision to NATO allies in Brussels on Wednesday. Biden can also publicly announce his decision, said multiple sources on condition of anonymity.
“After a rigorous policy review, President Biden has decided to withdraw the remaining troops in Afghanistan and finally end the US war there after 20 years,” a senior government official told reporters.
Biden’s decision would miss a May 1 withdrawal deadline that the Taliban insurgents had agreed upon with his predecessor Donald Trump’s administration.
In a statement last month, the Taliban threatened to resume hostilities against foreign troops in Afghanistan if they failed to meet the May 1 deadline.
But Biden would still set a short-term date for the withdrawal, which could potentially allay Taliban’s concerns that the United States might drag the process out.
The senior official in the Biden administration stressed that the withdrawal would not be subject to any further conditions.
“The president has judged that a conditions-based approach such as has been followed for the past two decades is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever,” the official said.
The May 1st deadline had become increasingly unlikely over the past few weeks as no on-site preparations were made to ensure it could be done in a safe and responsible manner. US officials have also accused the Taliban of failing to meet their commitments to reduce violence, and some have warned of the Taliban’s ongoing ties with al-Qaeda.
It was these ties that sparked US military intervention following the September 11 attacks in 2001, when al-Qaeda hijackers hurled planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington, and nearly 3,000 Killed people.
Still, the Biden administration said that al-Qaeda is not currently a threat to the US homeland.
There are currently only about 2,500 US soldiers in Afghanistan, up from a high of more than 100,000 in 2011. About 2,400 US soldiers were killed and many thousands more injured in the course of the Afghanistan conflict.
It remains unclear how Biden’s move would affect the upcoming talks in Istanbul from April 24 to May 4 to kick off an Afghan peace process and outline a possible political solution for the Central Asian nation. The planned 10-day summit will include the United Nations and Qatar.
US troops have long provided the United States with leverage in the peace effort.
But the senior government official from Biden said the United States would no longer adhere to that strategy.
“There is no military solution to the problems in Afghanistan and we will focus our efforts on supporting the ongoing peace process,” the official said.
The presence of American forces in Afghanistan allayed concerns that the United States might turn its back on the government in Kabul.
“We have to survive the effects and it should not be seen as a victory or takeover by the Taliban,” said a senior Afghan government source on condition of anonymity.
“By then, we hope there is clarity,” added the source.
The then President George W. Bush sent American forces to Afghanistan to overthrow his Taliban leaders a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks. The US armed forces tracked down and killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011 during the presidency of Bush’s successor, Barack Obama.
With a Bush-led US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the American military began a year-long period of two major wars fought concurrently to expand its capabilities. US troops left Iraq under Obama in 2011, although some were later deployed under President Donald Trump in response to the threat from Islamic State militants.