Biden will wait until September 11 to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan

Ross Houston
April 13, 2021

US President Joe Biden is set to announce that American troops will leave Afghanistan by 11 September, officials have told US media.

The President is deeply grateful for the honour, courage and determination of the US' men and women who served in Afghanistan for nearly two decades, as well as the sacrifices made not just by those troops, but also by their families, a senior Biden administration official told reporters during a conference call.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing on Tuesday that Biden would "lay out more specifics" in remarks on Wednesday.

"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", the source said.

Former president Donald Trump also favoured a withdrawal and reached a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 under which all United States troops would leave by May 2021 in return for the insurgents' promise not to back Al Qaeda and other extremists - the original reason for the 2001 invasion. The Taliban has vowed to renew attacks on the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation if foreign troops are not out by the deadline.

"The Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support", the Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community noted in a recent report.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell accused Biden of planning to "turn tail and abandon the fight in Afghanistan".

It was those ties that triggered U.S. military intervention in 2001 following al Qaeda's 11 September attacks on NY and Washington because the Taliban had harbored al Qaeda leaders.

There now are about 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of more than 100,000 in 2011.

The conference aims to speed up and give an global dimension to slow-moving talks between the Taliban and Afghan government in Qatar.

All U.S. troops will reportedly leave the country by September 11, ending U.S. involvement in a almost 20-year war that's cost the lives of more than 2,000 U.S. soldiers and 100,000 Afghan civilians and added trillions of dollars to the national debt.

"We will have to survive the impact of it and it should not be considered as Taliban's victory or takeover", said a senior Afghan government source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Postponing the U.S. withdrawal carries the risk of the Taliban resuming attacks on United States and coalition forces, possibly escalating a war which has already cost trillions of dollars and the lives of more than 2,000 USA service members and countless Afghans.

Hawkish foreign policy experts have long warned that an abrupt USA exit would endanger achievements made in Afghanistan over the past couple of decades on women's rights, education and other issues.

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