Joe Biden will announce that he will withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan
Joe Biden will announce on Wednesday that all U.S. forces will withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, to mark the 20th anniversary of the bombings that caused the country to remain in the country for decades.
“After a rigorous policy review, President Biden has decided to withdraw the remaining troops in Afghanistan and finally end the U.S. war there after 20 years,” a senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday.
“We will begin an orderly firing of the remaining forces before May 1 and we plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from the country before the 20th anniversary of 9/11,” the official added.
White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki said Biden will give a speech at the White House on Wednesday “on the way forward in Afghanistan.”
Psaki said in Biden’s speech that “plans and timelines for the withdrawal of U.S. troops will be closely coordinated with our partners and allies and the Afghan government and a commitment to address the threats and opportunities we face today around the world.”
“The president has been consistent in believing that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, that we have been spending too much time on it,” Psaki added. “That’s been his vision for a long time.”
The United States sent troops to Afghanistan in 2003 following the September 11, 2001 attacks. The number of soldiers in the country was more than 100,000 when former President Barack Obama ordered an “increase,” and then U.S. Vice President Biden opposed it before falling sharply in his second term.
Donald Trump vowed to end America’s “endless wars” abroad, and his administration continued to reduce the number of troops remaining in Afghanistan in the presidency.
In early 2020, the U.S. reached an agreement with the Taliban, which in early May this year offered to reduce U.S. troops in exchange for less violence and cut the Islamist group’s commitment to sever all ties with al-Qaeda.
However, the agreement did not get the support of the Kabul government, which is reluctant to allow the Taliban to enter into a power-sharing agreement or resolve complaints between political cliques.
The top official of the administration has said that the withdrawal of the remaining 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will not depend on reaching an agreement with the Kabul government or the Taliban.
“The President has judged that the conditions-based approach of the last two decades is a recipe for a permanent stay in Afghanistan,” the official added.
The Washington Post first reported the news to a large extent that was welcomed by Democratic lawmakers.
Jack Reed, a Democratic senator from Rhode Island who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Monday that he spoke with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“It will be a transition because we still have important interests to protect against terrorist attacks that may arise from that area,” he told Capitol Hill reporters. “But there are other places in the world where you need to be conscious.”
He added: “I believe, once again, that we need to focus on what we have before us, which is a commitment diplomatically, a commitment that will hopefully provide resources to sustain the gains made with the international community… And then a very, very specific counterterrorism operation.”
But many Republicans hit the move hard, and Senate Majority Republican Mitch McConnell said, “It’s a serious mistake to get U.S. forces out of Afghanistan. They back down in the face of an enemy that has yet to be defeated and renounce American leadership.”
He added: “Such a bold delay would put aside our Afghan, regional and NATO partners in a shared fight against terrorists we have not yet won.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blink and Austin are in Brussels this week for talks with NATO and EU leaders. There are currently 36 NATO allies and 10,000 troops from partner countries in Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, a NATO official said Alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg would discuss with Afghanistan Blinken and Austin on Wednesday.
“Allies have been consulting closely for months on how to move forward in Afghanistan,” the official said.
Additional report by Michael Peel in Brussels