On Wednesday Apr 14th, US President Joe Biden made a televised announcement. The President said it’s “time to end” America’s longest war. This means an unconditional withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan. The US army has spent two decades in a bloody and seemingly futile battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The US military presence in Afghanistan began in response to the Sep 11th 2001 attacks against the United States. This war against the Taliban is better known as the “forever war”.
Biden named Sep 11th as the deadline by which the last US soldiers will finally depart from Afghanistan. This is 20 years on, after the deaths of almost 2,400 US military personnel and tens of thousands of Afghan nationals. On May 1st, official pull-out operations will take place.
Biden said the United States had already accomplished its limited original mission of crushing the international jihadist groups behind the 9/11 attacks. He also said that with every passing year, the rationale for US soldiers staying on was “increasingly unclear”. The President made this statement over national television.
No hasty exit
Biden is adamant about his decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, despite his insistence of no “hasty exit”.
The US President said “A horrific attack 20 years ago … cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021.” “It’s time to end the forever war.”
Biden is telling the US people that it is time to accept reality.
At best, the conflict in Afghanistan is at a stalemate. The current internationally backed government has weak control, and that too is only in parts of the country.
Political analysts are predicting the insurgency will seek to regain total power once the existing government’s US military umbrella is removed. This is because of the growing evidence that the Taliban is getting stronger.
The President’s say
“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” Biden said.
He said “I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats.” “I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”
Americans were not shocked with Biden’s decision. Among voters, the war is hugely unpopular. In fact former President Donald Trump did commit to pull out US troops at the start of May.
On Wednesday, top Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said “I applaud President Biden’s decision.”
What the critics say
There was however, quick criticism from some parties that the US is abandoning the Afghan government. They feel such a move will encourage a rise in jihadist insurgencies.
Senior Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said “We’re to help our adversaries ring in the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by gift wrapping the country, and handing it right back to them.”
An emotional Biden walked under a light drizzle through Arlington National Cemetery immediately after the speech. He told reporters that his decision had not been difficult.
He said “It was absolutely clear, absolutely clear.”
Holding the Taliban accountable
On Wednesday, after a phone call with Biden, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani insisted that his forces are fully capable of controlling the country.
According to the excerpts of the conversation, President Biden said Washington will continue to support the Afghan government, only not via the military.
The Taliban will be held accountable to the US on their promises to disallow foreign militants to set up their base in Afghanistan, according to Biden. He also said Pakistan should increase their effort to do more to support Afghanistan, as Pakistan has close links with the Taliban.
The US exit however, will deal a heavy blow for the troubled Kabul government, and its US coalition-trained security forces. Total withdrawal of US troops means that only a handful of American soldiers will remain in Afghanistan. They will be assigned to protect strategic US buildings. One such building is the US Embassy in Kabul.
15th April 2021 23:00
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