Joe Biden to 'withdrawal all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11'

Daniel Fowler
April 14, 2021

President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11 - the twentieth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks - prompted a split on Capitol Hill among both Republicans and Democrats, creating some unusual bedfellows over what to do about America's longest war.

The U.S. and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies had signed a deal with the Taliban in February previous year to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan if the Taliban met certain preconditions, including a cessation of violence (the Taliban has repeatedly attacked on civilians and Afghan security forces since) and not turning the country into a haven for terrorist groups, particularly al-Qaeda.

Mr Biden's decision came as Turkey announced the dates of a US-backed peace conference - also expected to include few women - that would bring together the Afghan government, the Taliban and worldwide partners. Tellingly, he added, "And if we leave, we're going to do so in a safe and orderly way".

"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 U.S. would continue its push for a diplomatic solution, the administration official confirmed on Tuesday, saying the administration had "long known" that there was no "military solution" to Afghanistan's problems.

For Afghans the fighting will likely grind on. "The Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support", the assessment said.

Biden will make an announcement on Wednesday that all USA forces, in coordination with those of Western allies, will leave other than limited personnel to guard U.S. diplomatic installations, the official said.

Officially, there are 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, although the number fluctuates and is now around 3,500. U.S. officials have also blamed the Taliban for failing to live up to commitments to reduce violence and some have warned about persistent Taliban links to Al Qaeda.

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

Although the Taliban, a hardline Islamist movement, stopped attacks on global forces as part of the historic agreement, it has continued to fight the Afghan government. The Taliban, who enforce an austere brand of Sunni Islam, banned women from school, offices, music and most of daily life during its 1996-2001 rule over much of Afghanistan.

"Leaders in both parties, including me, offered criticism when the prior administration floated the concept of a reckless withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan", McConnell said.

The US national intelligence report states that the Taliban "is confident it can achieve military victory".

But Afghan women have been largely shut out of talks between the Taliban and Kabul on a lasting peace deal in the country, with activists arguing that could compromise their fragile, hard-won rights going forward.

The Democratic president will publicly announce his decision on Wednesday, the White House said.

India has said it would back a negotiated peace settlement via a regional process convened by the UN.

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.

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