By: Lailuma Noori
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken after meeting with NATO foreign and defense ministers in Brussels said, “It is time for the US and its allies to withdraw from Afghanistan.” He said Washington would closely work with NATO.
“I’m here to work closely with our allies, with the secretary general, on the principle that we’ve established from the start. In together, adapt together, and out together,” he said.
“We will work very closely together, in the weeks and months ahead, on a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan,” he said.
“But even as we do that, our commitment to Afghanistan, to its future, will remain. And we’ll talk about that today as well. As Jens (NATO Secretary General) has said,” Blinken added.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has announced date for US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying that the troop withdrawal process is to be completed by September 11 of the current year.
“We will begin our withdrawal on May 1,” Biden said, adding that it will not be a “hasty rush to the exit,” and if the Taliban attacks, the US will defend itself and partners with “all the tools at our disposal.”
“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” said Biden, who delivered his address from the White House Treaty Room, the same location where President George W. Bush announced the start of the war. “I am now the fourth United States president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”
Biden spoke, too, with former President Bush ahead of announcing his decision. He also spoke with allies, military leaders, lawmakers and Vice President Kamala Harris to help make his decision, according to the White House. Bush, through his spokesman, declined to comment about his conversation with Biden.
Biden emphasized that his administration will continue to support peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban and assist international efforts to train the Afghan military.
In reacting to the decision of Biden, CIA Director William Burns acknowledged at a hearing Wednesday that America’s ability to contain the terrorist threat from Afghanistan has benefited from the military presence there, and that when that presence is withdrawn, “the U.S. government’s ability to collect and act on threats will diminish.” “That’s simply a fact,” Burns said. “It is also a fact, however, that after withdrawal, whenever that time comes, the CIA and all of our partners in the U.S. government will retain a suite of capabilities, some of it remaining in place, some of them that we will generate, that can help us to anticipate and contest any rebuilding effort.” A senior administration official said the September withdrawal date was an absolute deadline that won’t be affected by security conditions in Afghanistan.
Based on US -Taliban peace deal signed on 29 February 2020, it was determined that US troop withdrawal process ended on 1 May. Currently, nearly 2,400 US forces and at least 10,000 NATO forces are in Afghanistan.