BRUSSELS (AP) – US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Biden on Wednesday consulted with NATO to coordinate the alliance’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, agreeing to a planned withdrawal of US troops on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken նախարար Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met Wednesday with senior officials from 30 members of the alliance to discuss NATO’s future presence in Afghanistan in light of Biden’s announcement of the US withdrawal during the 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 no longer be a haven for terrorists who could attack one of us,” Blinken said. “And together we have achieved the goals we set out to achieve. And now is the time to bring our forces home. ”
“We will work very closely in the coming weeks and months to withdraw our forces safely, deliberately and systematically from Afghanistan,” he said. He added that the mantra that guided NATO’s Resolute Support Mission was “together, adapt together, go out together.”
Coalition action in Afghanistan has a special resonance with NATO, as its deployment marks the first time the alliance has applied its Article 5 mutual defense pact, which assumes that an attack on one member attacks everyone.
Blinken ղեկավար NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg kicked off meetings at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, recalling the alliance’s success in ousting Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network from Afghanistan.
Stoltenberg said the meetings would focus on “our future presence in Afghanistan” so that an alliance that makes decisions on an agreement basis could make those plans known in the near future.
Even before the group meetings began, it turned out that there was a consensus on a joint withdrawal. German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karenbauer has said that NATO members will probably decide to join the United States to withdraw their troops by September 11.
“We have always said. “We go in together, we go out together,” he told German ARD television. “I am in favor of regular withdrawals.” Germany, which currently has about 1,000 troops in Afghanistan, has always said it would not be able to maintain a presence there if the United States left.
Even when NATO was considering ending its mission in Afghanistan, a possible new outbreak arose. Russian troops are gathering in eastern Ukraine on its border, which is also expected to be the main topic of conversation on Wednesday. Many times the movements of the troops have been labeled “provocative”, “aggressive”, demanding that Russia stop or at least be explained. Ukraine is not a NATO ally, but is seeking membership because of Russia’s fierce objections.
Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan last year runs counter to the deadline for a full withdrawal from the Trump administration’s May 1 peace deal with the Taliban last year, but leaves no room for further delays. It puts an end to a two-decade war that killed more than 2,200 American servicemen, wounded 20,000 and cost $ 1 trillion.
But with the withdrawal of NATO troops, the US withdrawal jeopardizes many of the gains made in democracy, women’s rights and governance, while ensuring that al-Qaeda-held Taliban strongholds remain strong and control large areas of the country.
Blinken sought to address those concerns, saying that leaving would not mean ending US or NATO support for Afghanistan. “Even when we do, our commitment to Afghanistan, to its future, will remain,” he said.
An administration official said Biden had decided that the withdrawal deadline should be absolute, not based on site conditions. “We are committed to zeroing in on US forces today by September 11,” possibly even before that, “the official said, adding that Biden had concluded that a conditional exit would be” a recipe for lasting Afghanistan. “
The president’s decision, however, risks the Taliban retaliating against the US-Afghan forces, possibly exacerbating the 20-year war. Peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are deadlocked, but are expected to resume in Turkey later this month.
With the Trump administration in 2020 In a February agreement, the Taliban agreed to cease hostilities and hold peace talks with the Afghan government until a full US withdrawal by May 2021.
Over the past year, U.S. military commanders and defense officials have reported that attacks on U.S. troops have largely ceased, but that Taliban attacks on Afghans are on the rise. Commanders say the Taliban have failed to meet the terms of the peace deal by continuing their attacks on Afghans without cutting ties with al-Qaeda and other extremist groups.