The White House pulls troops out of Afghanistan by September 11

Tanya Simon
April 13, 2021

Setting the September 11 date, however, underscores the reason that American troops were in Afghanistan to begin with - to prevent extremist groups from establishing a foothold in the country again that could be used to launch attacks against the US.

Biden's plan will, however, run afoul of a US-Taliban agreement brokered under former President Donald Trump that called for the full US exit to be completed no later than May 1.

Past administrations have unsuccessfully tried to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan.

President Joe Biden is reportedly set to withdraw all USA troops from Afghanistan in the coming months. A senior Biden administration official said the pullout would begin before May 1 and could be complete well before the September 11 deadline. "No one wants a forever war, but I've consistently said any withdrawal must be conditions-based".

In a statement last month, the Taliban threatened to resume hostilities against foreign troops in Afghanistan if they did not meet the 1 May deadline.

Biden's decision came just as Turkey announced the dates of a peace conference on Afghanistan that would bring together the government, the Taliban and global partners - though, again, would include few women.

The US move comes hours after it was confirmed that the Taliban and the Afghan government would take part in a US-led peace conference in Turkey, starting later this month.

US officials said that raids by special operations troops based outside the country and airstrikes could be employed if intelligence found that Al Qaeda posed a growing threat.

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"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, noting that the USA exit will begin before May 1 and will be completed by September 11 at the latest.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin are expected to brief North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies on the decision in the Belgian capital, Brussels, on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the administration official warned that there would be consequences for the Taliban if it attacked US or allied forces during the drawdown.

"We will begin an orderly draw-down of the remaining forces before May 1st and plan to have all USA troops out of the country before the 20th anniversary of 9/11", the official told reporters on a briefing call on Tuesday.

Democratic Senator Jack Reed, chairman of Senate Armed Services, called it a very hard decision for Biden.

"We will leave. The question is when we leave", Biden said. "We will remain in lockstep with them as we undergo this operation", said the official.

"If we withdraw and no deal was made with the Taliban, I think the government of Afghanistan is going to be in for a very stiff fight to retain possession" of urban population centers, McKenzie warned.

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