Senator Graham Lambasts Biden for Reportedly Deciding to Completely Withdraw Afghan Troops

Andrew Cummings
April 14, 2021

Also on Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he will expand the U.S. military presence in Germany by adding 500 troops and ending planning for troop cuts that had been ordered by the Trump administration past year.

"We have communicated to the Taliban in no uncertain terms that, if they do conduct attacks against U.S. or allied forces as we carry out this drawdown, that we will hit back hard", the official said.

The deal signed in February 2020 said the USA and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies would withdraw all troops in 14 months if the Taliban upheld its promises, including not allowing al-Qaeda or other militants to operate in areas it controlled and proceeding with national peace talks.

The president decided that the deadline for withdrawal of United States forces had to be absolute, rather than provisional on conditions inside Afghanistan as the deadline neared, the senior administration official said.

"The president has judged that a conditions-based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever", the official said.

The blending of the two parties' views on Afghanistan as Biden plans to withdraw USA troops - fulfilling a campaign promise that eluded both Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump - is a sign of how Afghanistan has moved beyond traditional partisanship as the war has dragged on for almost two decades.

Fighting will likely grind on.

U.S. officials provided details on Mr Biden's decision on condition of anonymity, speaking ahead of the announcement.

"Afghan forces continue to secure major cities and other government strongholds, but they remain tied down in defensive missions and have struggled to hold recaptured territory or reestablish a presence in areas abandoned in 2020", it said.

Many observers believe that the Taliban effectively believes that it has won and can wait out the USA withdrawal, but the United States is eager to try to find a lasting peace solution that could bring stability. Under previous Taliban rule, the rights of women and girls were curtailed.

The Trump administration also tried to pave the way for peace negotiations between the internationally recognized Afghan government and the Taliban - although talks have since faltered.

"The conference will focus on helping the negotiating parties reach a set of shared, foundational principles that reflect an agreed vision for a future Afghanistan, a roadmap to a future political settlement and an end to the conflict", read the statement.

"We will take the time we need to execute that, and no more time than that", he said.

But many observers believe that the Taliban think they have already effectively won and can wait out the United States withdrawal, as little progress has come out of on-off talks in Qatar.

The troop figure by the end of Mr Trump's presidency had gone down to 2,500 as support for military action waned.

Last month, President Biden said it would be hard to meet Trump's May 1 deadline to withdraw, though he signaled his willingness to end the war.

In stark contrast, congressman Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, blasted the decision, saying it "shows a complete disregard for the realities on the ground".

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