U.S. Troops to Leave Afghanistan
REUTERS/Alamy Stock Photo
The U.S. military has been active in Afghanistan for almost 20 years. President Biden is planning for complete withdrawal.

U.S. Troops to Leave Afghanistan

Soon after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States began a war in Afghanistan. President Biden announced that he wants all American troops to return home by September 11, 2021. For the past several months, the U.S. has been involved in peace talks with the Taliban and the government in Afghanistan. The negotiations are slow, but the president said that waiting for a perfect set of conditions for American troops withdrawal would mean waiting forever.

Negotiations and Previous Deadlines

In February 2020, the Taliban signed a peace agreement with the Afghan government. Assuming the Taliban complied with its end of the agreement, the U.S. said it would completely withdraw all troops within fourteen months. During the Trump administration, the United States made a peace agreement with the Taliban, but the Taliban continued their attacks in violation of this agreement. So former President Trump set a new May 1 deadline to remove all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. After he won the election, President Biden, felt that it would be difficult to meet that May 1 deadline. Biden’s recent speech reset the new deadline for American troop withdrawal to September 11—twenty years after the American war with Afghanistan began.

In his speech on Wednesday, April 14, President Biden expressed his belief that a continued American presence in Afghanistan is no longer warranted. According to the president, the main objectives of the conflict–capturing or eliminating Osama bin Laden and reducing the power of al-Qaida in the region–have been achieved. President Biden also pointed out that four presidents have presided over the Afghanistan conflict, and he does not wish to pass that burden on to a fifth.

What Are the Current Expectations?

In 2011, the United States reached a peak of more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. Since then, the number has dropped to roughly 2,500 today, with an additional 1,000 special operation forces. Biden plans to phase these remaining troops out slowly, beginning in May. But the U.S. will continue to provide humanitarian and diplomatic aid to Afghanistan. This includes providing assistance to its national security forces. Some U.S. personnel will remain to maintain diplomatic relations. At the same time, Biden expects other countries, such as Pakistan, Russia, India, China, and Turkey, to take on a larger share of the responsibility.

The U.S. isn’t the only nation looking to move on from the Afghanistan conflict. The same day as Biden’s announcement, NATO also announced that it will begin removing its forces by May 1.  

What Do You Think? Do you agree or disagree with President Biden’s decision to remove all American troops from Afghanistan by the twenty-year anniversary of 9/11? Why or why not?
Valerie Cumming

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