Washington: US President Joe Biden is set to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan before the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.
Biden will announce his decision on Wednesday to withdraw the military from the country over the coming months, The Washington Post quoted a person familiar with the matter as saying.
On September 11, 2001, the United States faced the deadliest terrorist attack in its history. More than 3,000 people were killed in the terror attack.
In a span of just 102 minutes, both towers of New York’s World Trade Center collapsed after planes hijacked by al Qaeda operatives crashed into them.
The Trump administration had previously set a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal in negotiations with the Taliban.
While the Taliban has vowed to renew attacks on US and NATO personnel if foreign troops are not out by the deadline, it is not clear if the militants will follow through with those threats given Biden’s plan for a phased withdrawal between now and September, reported The Washington Post.
Officially, there are 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, although the number fluctuates and is currently about 1,000 more than that. There are also up to an additional 7,000 foreign forces in the coalition there, the majority of them are NATO troops.
“This is the immediate, practical reality that our policy review discovered,” the person familiar with the deliberations said. “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.”
“We’re going to zero troops by September.”
In addition to major domestic challenges, “the reality is that the United States has big strategic interests in the world,” the person said,”like non-proliferation, like an increasingly aggressive and assertive Russia, like North Korea and Iran, whose nuclear programs pose a threat to the United States,” as well as China. “The main threats to the American homeland are actually from other places: from Africa, from parts of the Middle East — Syria and Yemen.”
“Afghanistan just does not rise to the level of those other threats at this point,” the person 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.”
Some officials have warned that a US exit will lead to the collapse of the Kabul government while jeopardising gains made over the last two decades in health, education and women’s rights, The Washington Post reported.
Biden administration officials say the United States intends to remain closely involved in the peace process and will continue to provide humanitarian aid and assistance to the Afghan government and security forces, which remains almost totally dependent on foreign support.
Meanwhile, the White House declined to comment on withdrawal plans, reported The Washington Post.