9/11 target set by US to pull out troops from Afghanistan
Washington, Apr 14: US President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that he has planned to have all American troops out of war-torn Afghanistan by September 11 this year, the 20th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attack on the twin-towers in New York.
The President is deeply grateful for the honour, courage and determination of the US' men and women who served in Afghanistan for almost two decades, as well as the sacrifices made not just by those troops, but also by their families, a senior Biden administration official told reporters during a conference call.
"After a rigorous policy review, President Biden has decided to drawdown the remaining US troops from Afghanistan and finally end the US war there after 20 years. We will begin an orderly drawdown of the remaining forces before May 1 and plan to have all US troops out of the country before the 20th anniversary of 9/11," the official said.
"We went to Afghanistan to deliver justice to those who attacked us on September 11 and to disrupt terrorists seeking to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to attack. We believe we achieved that objective some years ago.
"We judged the threat against the homeland now emanating from Afghanistan to be at a level that we can address it, without a persistent military footprint in the country and without remaining at war with the Taliban," the official said.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official said that the president made the determination and is announcing Wednesday that the best path forward to advance American interests is to end the war in Afghanistan after 20 years, so that they can address the global threat picture as it exists today, not as it was two decades ago.
"We have long known that military force would not solve Afghanistan's internal political challenges; would not end Afghanistan, internal conflict. And so, we are ending our military operations while we focus our efforts on supporting diplomatically," the official said.
The decision comes after a review of the Afghan policy.
"What emerged was a clear-eyed assessment of the best path forward. We have said that there is no military solution to the problems plaguing Afghanistan and we will focus our efforts on supporting the ongoing peace process. And that means putting the full weight of our government behind diplomatic efforts to reach a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government, but what we will not do is use our troops as bargaining chips in that process," the official said.
The US, the official said, will coordinate with NATO allies and partners about a drawdown of their forces in the same timeframe beginning before May one ending before the 20th anniversary of September 11.
"We have told the Taliban in no uncertain terms that any attacks on US troops as we undergo in safe and orderly control will be met with a forceful response. At this point we have discussed the drawdown with our NATO allies and operational partners. We will remain in lockstep with them as we undergo this operation," said the official.
According to the official, Biden was adamant that a hasty, ill-coordinated withdrawal that puts at risk US forces and those of its allies and operational partners is not a viable option.
"The United States is going to remain deeply engaged with the Government of Afghanistan committed to the Afghan people who have made extraordinary sacrifices during this conflict. It will stand behind the diplomatic process, and we will use our full toolkit to ensure the future that the Afghan people are seeking has the best chance of coming about.
"We will also look to work with other countries using diplomatic, economic and humanitarian tools to protect the gains made by Afghan women. We will encourage any future government in Afghanistan to expand the sources for refugees and internally displaced peoples," the official added.