The US military will complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of August, a month before the deadline, US president Joe Biden said in a press conference on Thursday, July 8. Biden also dismissed the rising concerns about an eventual Taliban takeover of power in Afghanistan, saying that the US did not go to the country on a nation-building mission and it’s up to “Afghans to make decisions about the future of their country.”
Biden also denied any US responsibility in the loss of Afghan lives in the ongoing civil war which followed the announcement of troop withdrawal. He claimed that the US has achieved the goals behind the 2001 invasion. He also asserted that there is no terror emanating from Afghanistan anymore. He emphasized that the US forces need to move out of the country as fast as possible as “speed is safety” in this context.
Since assuming power as president in January this year, Joe Biden continued his predecessor Donald Trump’s policy of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan as per the US’s deal with Taliban signed last year in Doha. In April this year, Biden announced that all remaining US troops in Afghanistan would withdraw completely by September 11, the anniversary of attacks on the twin towers and the Pentagon in 2001.
Thursday’s announcement came amid news of the Taliban’s increasing assaults on government forces in Afghanistan and the fear of civil war. Pentagon officials issued a press briefing saying that Taliban has taken control over dozens of district centers in the country in the last few days.
The US has promised to retain the possibility of air strikes in the country. Biden announced that the US will retain “a few hundred” of its troops to guard the US embassy and other diplomats in the country. It will also guard the international airport of the city.
The US-led NATO alliance also announced the withdrawal of all remaining international forces from the country. Germany withdrew all its troops last week. On Thursday, UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced that most of the British troops in Afghanistan have withdrawn and remaining troops will leave soon.
Last week, the US withdrew from Afghanistan’s largest airbase in Bagram in haste after controlling it for decades. Afghan officials subsequently complained that the US did not even inform them prior to the withdrawal, leading to arson and looting at the base.
The Taliban took control of two major towns in the country’s west on Thursday. Meanwhile, delegates of the Afghan government and Taliban met for two days starting Wednesday in Iran’s capital Tehran where they agreed to issue a joint statement saying the “war is not the solution of the Afghan problem.”