US to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by September

Marco Green
April 13, 2021

Former president Donald Trump also favoured a withdrawal and reached a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 under which all U.S. troops would leave by May 2021 in return for the insurgents' promise not to back Al Qaeda and other extremists - the original reason for the 2001 invasion.

The official said Biden had arrived at that determination after a "rigorous" policy review, and believes that the threat to the USA emanating from Afghanistan is at a level that can be addressed without a persistent military footprint in the country.

The withdrawal will not be affected by the progress of the troubled peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, the official said.

The official said a small number would remain beyond that date, but in the capacity of protecting the USA embassy. Fox News reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the decision a "grave mistake".

"We went to Afghanistan to deliver justice to those who attacked us on September 11 and to disrupt terrorists seeking to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to attack".

"We've long known that military force would not solve Afghanistan's internal political challenges, would not end Afghanistan's internal conflicts, and so we are ending our military operations while we focus our efforts on supporting diplomatically the ongoing peace process", the official said.

The administration is not considering leaving a counterterrorism force in the country, an idea that President Joe Biden promoted during last year's election campaign.

"There is not a military solution in Afghanistan".

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.

Postponing the U.S. withdrawal carries the risk of the Taliban resuming attacks on USA and coalition forces, possibly escalating a war which has already cost trillions of dollars and the lives of more than 2,000 United States service members and countless Afghans. But violence may resume during the drawdown.

Sources told CNN that Biden had been weighing the decision for months and indicated he did not want to keep troops in Afghanistan much longer past May 1.

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".

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Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the move a "a reckless and unsafe decision" and urged the administration to reconsider.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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