US to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by September 11

The US had earlier committed to withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan by May 2021 on the fulfillment of certain conditions by the Taliban. It has now said it will do so without any conditions

April 14, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Photo: Xinhua

The Joe Biden administration in the US has decided to withdraw its remaining troops from Afghanistan without any conditions, a government official was reported as saying on Tuesday, April 13. The US troops will leave Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in 2001.

“We will begin an orderly drawdown of the remaining forces before May 1 and plan to have all US troops out of the country before the 20th anniversary of 9/11”, the official said. The decision has been made after consulting NATO members. According to the media reports, president Joe Biden will announce the decision formally on Wednesday.

The withdrawal of all foreign troops was part of a deal signed between the Donald Trump administration and the Taliban last year in February. Though the deal set May 1, 2021 as the deadline for the withdrawal, the US is most likely to miss it now. Troop withdrawal is claimed to be the best way to protect US interests and to end the 20-year-long war.

Various activists welcomed the US decision. Medea Benjamin from CODEPINK also hoped that it will lead to the end of the US interventions in the country.

Withdrawal without conditions 

Intra-Afghan talks and non-cooperation of the Taliban with al-Qaeda and ISIS were the two main conditions for the troop withdrawal in the US-Taliban deal signed last year. However, according to the media reports, the Biden administration has decided to withdraw the troops anyway.

Earlier in March, US officials had warned against the complete troop withdrawal without an agreement between the Afghanistan government and Taliban. Women’s rights groups have also warned against hasty withdrawal without any concrete assurance by Taliban.

Though formal talks have been going on between them since last September in Doha, Qatar, it has not achieved anything concrete and the war between Taliban and government forces continues over the control of territories.

The US, which had more than 100,000 troops in the country in 2011, has gradually reduced it to around 2,500 troops due to the rising costs of the Afghanistan war. Most of the troops were withdrawn during Donald Trump’s presidency.

Meanwhile, Britain also announced its decision to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan after the US decision. Britain, a NATO member, has around 750 troops in the country.

The Taliban had threatened to resume its hostilities against foreign troops in the country last month if they failed to adhere to the May 1 deadline for withdrawal. At the same time, it had not committed anything on end of hostilities against the government forces. It has been accused by the government of carrying out several terrorist activities against civilians in the country as well.

Even on Tuesday, the Taliban was accused of attacking government forces, leading to the death of at least 10 members of the Afghan National Army.

Intra-Afghan talks 

The Biden administration claimed that withdrawal of troops will help it concentrate on exploring alternative routes to bring peace in Afghanistan and start intra-Afghan talks. On Tuesday, its NATO ally Turkey announced that it will host representatives from Taliban and the Afghan government, along with representatives from Qatar and the UN, in Istanbul for the peace talks between April 24 and May 4. However, the Taliban has been reluctant to join the talks until troops are withdrawn.

“We’ve long known that military force would not solve Afghanistan internal political challenges and would not end Afghanistan internal conflict. And so, we are ending our military operations while we focus our efforts on supporting diplomatically the ongoing peace process,” a US official was quoted saying by Tolo news.

However, the Taliban has yet not confirmed its participation in the Istanbul conference on the said dates. Earlier, it had refused to participate in the conference which was originally scheduled from April 16.

Its spokesperson, Mohammad Naeem, following the US decision, said in a Twitter post today that “unless all foreign troops completely withdraw from our homeland we will not participate in any conference that shall make decisions about Afghanistan,” Iranian Press TV reported.

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