The agreement signed last February said the United States and its NATO allies would leave Afghanistan within 14 months if the Taliban kept their promises. It includes not allowing Al-Qaeda or other militants to operate in territory controls and continuing national peace negotiations. For starting talks with the Afghan government, Taliban are also calling for release of their people in exchange for prisoners.
The United States has spent trillions of dollars and lost more than 2,000 soldiers in the longest war since 2001. There are concerns that the Taliban could take power if foreign forces withdraw before a permanent settlement is reached. So, Mr. Biden had previously said that the May 1 deadline is difficult to meet. On the other side Taliban also threatened to continue hostilities against foreign troops still in the country on May 1.
The United States has about 2,500 troops in the country as part of the 9,600-member NATO mission. Despite stopping attacks on international forces under the historic agreement, the group continues to fight the Afghan government. Direct talks began in Doha in September 2020, but no breakthroughs have achieved.
“US President Joe Biden will announce that US soldiers will leave Afghanistan on September 11”, US media reported. The new deadline coincides with the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Also the Pentagon in the United States in 2001. The move comes hours after it was confirmed that the Taliban and the Afghan government would attend a US-led peace conference in Turkey.
“The Taliban have been warned that if they attack US troops during the withdrawal period, they will receive a strong response”, a senior government official told reporters. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin expected to notify NATO allies of a decision in the Belgian capital, Brussels, on Wednesday. “Mr. Biden decided that a hasty retreat that would endanger US troops was not a viable option”, the official added.
Is it really a Boost for Talibans?
Afghan authorities will see the announcement as an important stimulus for the Taliban, even though the rebels insist on meeting the May 1 deadline. The slow pace of talks between Afghan negotiators and the Taliban means it will be difficult to reach a power-sharing agreement before US troops withdraw. However, the risk of a more fragmented and bloody conflict is enormous.