Biden to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by 20th anniversary of 9/11, report says

‘In terms of where we will be investing force posture, our blood and treasure, we believe that other priorities merit that investment’

Justin Vallejo
New York
Tuesday 13 April 2021 20:27
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Joe Biden says he 'can't picture' US troops being in Afghanistan next year
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President Joe Biden is planning to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, according to reports.

Quoting one person familiar with the matter, The Washington Post reported that Mr Biden will announce on Wednesday his decision to withdraw the military from the country over the coming months.

The Trump administration had set a 1 May deadline for the withdrawal in negotiations with the Taliban.

The new administration has been reviewing its options on withdrawing the remaining American soldiers, estimated to be 2,500 to 3,500. There are also about 7,000 Nato troops still in the country.

“This is the immediate, practical reality that our policy review discovered,” the person familiar with the deliberations told the Post.

“If we break the May 1st deadline negotiated by the previous administration with no clear plan to exit, we will be back at war with the Taliban, and that was not something President Biden believed was in the national interest.”

They said the US was “going to zero troops by September” as there are larger strategic interests to prioritise, like non-proliferation, an aggressive Russia, nuclear programmes in North Korea and Iran, as well as China.

Afghanistan, meanwhile, no longer rises to the level of threat to the American homeland as threats from Africa and parts of the Middle East like Syria and Yemen, they said.

“That does not mean we’re turning away from Afghanistan. We are going to remain committed to the government, remain committed diplomatically.

“But in terms of where we will be investing force posture, our blood and treasure, we believe that other priorities merit that investment.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Mr Biden would deliver remarks on Afghanistan on Wednesday to outline his timeline and plan to withdraw US troops from the country.

“The president has been consistent in his view that there is not a military solution to Afghanistan, that we have been there for far too long, that has been his view for some time,” she said.

“He remains committed to supporting negotiations between the parties … which are resuming next week, and he also believes we need to focus our resources on fighting the threats we face today, almost 20 years, after the war began.”

The official revealing the details anonymously to the Post said the administration would continue to participate in the peace process, provide humanitarian aid, and assist the Afghan government.

But the mission in Afghanistan to “deliver justice” and disrupt terrorists using the country as a safe following the September 11 terror attack in 2001, had been achieved “some years ago”.

“For that reason the president made the determination ... that the best path forward to advance American interests is ending this war after 20 years so we can address the global threat picture as it exists today,” the person said.

At his first press conference as president, Mr Biden said it would be hard to meet the 1 May deadline for “tactical reasons” in getting the troops out.

Asked if he saw them remaining there in 2022, Mr Biden said: “I can’t picture that being the case.”

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