Washington (AP) – President Biden announced on Wednesday that he would withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, saying the 9/11 attacks “could not explain” why US forces should still be there in the face of the worst terrorist attack on the United States. 20 years later.
His plan is to withdraw all US forces, which currently number 2,500, by September 11, the anniversary of the attacks, which were coordinated from Afghanistan.
Biden noted that the United States can not continue to waste resources in an unresolved war, expecting different results.
The deal is expected to begin on May 1, the deadline for full withdrawal under a peace deal reached by the Trump administration with the Taliban last year.
“It’s time to end America’s longest-running war,” Biden said, but added that the United States “will not rush to the exit.”
“We can not continue the cycle of expanding or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different outcome,” Biden said. “I am now the fourth President of the United States to preside over US troops in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not transfer this responsibility to the fifth. ”
For Biden, the decision is perhaps the most significant foreign policy decision at the beginning of his presidency.
He has long been skeptical of the US presence in Afghanistan. As Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden was the only voice in the administration advising the 44th president to play the role of a terrorist target in the country, while military advisers called for troops to counter the Taliban’s gains. Biden also made it clear that he wanted to reconsider US foreign policy to meet greater challenges from China and Russia.
Withdrawal of all US troops carries clear risks. It could spur the Taliban’s efforts to regain power, undermine the gains in democracy and women’s rights over the past two decades. That leaves Biden open to criticism, mostly from Republicans and some Democrats, although former President Donald Trump also wanted to step down.
“This administration has decided to abandon US efforts in Afghanistan to help control radical Islamic terrorism,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. “And strangely enough, they decided to do it before 9/11.”
Although Biden’s decision kept US forces in Afghanistan four months longer than originally planned, it finally ended a two-decade war that killed more than 2,200 US troops, wounded 20,000 and cost $ 1 trillion.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he had spoken to Biden on Wednesday ahead of a speech by the US president.
“The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan respects the decision of the United States. We will work with our American partners to ensure a smooth transition,” Ghani said in a Twitter post.
Biden consulted with allies, military leaders, lawmakers and Vice President Kamala Harris to help make his decision. White House spokesman En Psaki added that Biden had also spoken to “his predecessors” at the White House, and that the administration had recently contacted 44 officials from other countries, including NATO, the European Union and the United Nations.
He stressed that his administration would continue to support the Afghan government’s peace talks between the Taliban and international efforts to train Afghan forces.
After his speech, Biden was to visit Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery to pay his respects to those killed in the recent American conflict.
On Wednesday, CIA Director William Burns heard that the United States’ ability to contain the terrorist threat from Afghanistan had benefited from its military presence there, that withdrawing that presence would “weaken the US government’s ability to” collect and act threats. “
“It’s just a fact,” Burns said. “It’s a fact that when it comes out, when that time comes, the CIA բոլոր all of our partners in the US government will have a number of opportunities, some will remain in place, some we will create.” “It can help us anticipate and challenge any reconstruction effort.”
A senior administration official said the September withdrawal date was an absolute deadline that would not affect security conditions in Afghanistan.
The protracted conflict has largely crippled al-Qaeda, leading to the deaths of architect Osama bin Laden in the September 11 attacks. But the US withdrawal also jeopardizes many of the gains in democracy, women’s rights and governance, while ensuring that the al-Qaeda-linked Taliban remain strong and control large areas of the country.
When Biden announced his decision, his top national security aides in Brussels on Wednesday were consulting on a planned withdrawal of US troops to coordinate the alliance’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken նախարար Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with senior officials from 30 members of the Alliance to discuss NATO’s future presence in Afghanistan in light of Biden’s announcement’s day.
Blinken said he expected the allies to leave together, but insisted that neither the United States nor NATO would leave the country despite the forthcoming withdrawal. About 7,000 NATO troops are still in Afghanistan, in addition to the remaining 2,500 US troops.
“Together we entered Afghanistan to deal with those who attacked us, to make sure that Afghanistan would not again become a haven for terrorists who could attack one of us,” Blinken said.
___ Lee reported from Brussels. Associated Press writers Eric Tucker և Alexandra aff afen contributed to the show.