Afghan President on Withdrawal: We’ll Continue to Work with U.S/NATO

Afghan alleged former Taliban fighters carry their weapons before handing them over as part of a government peace and reconciliation process at a ceremony in Jalalabad on February 24, 2016. More than a dozen former Taliban fighters from Nazyan district of Nangarhar province handed over their weapons as part of …
NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images

Afghanistan will continue working with its “U.S./NATO partners” after the U.S. withdraws troops from the country in September, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Wednesday.

“Tonight, I had a call with [U.S.] President [Joe] Biden in which we discussed the US decision to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan by early September. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan respects the US decision and we will work with our US partners to ensure a smooth transition,” President Ghani wrote in a statement posted to his official Twitter account on April 14.

“As we move into the next phase in our partnership, we will continue to work with our US/NATO partners in the ongoing peace efforts,” Ghani said.

“Afghanistan’s proud security and defense forces are fully capable of defending its people and country, which they have been doing all along, and for which the Afghan nation will forever remain grateful,” the president added.

The United States will completely withdraw all 2,500 of its remaining troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, President Biden claimed on Wednesday. Washington had scheduled its withdrawal to be complete by May 1 under President Donald Trump. Though Biden’s move prolongs America’s presence there, he framed his announcement as an end rather than an extension.

Biden said in a speech on April 14:

After consulting closely with our allies and partners, with our military leaders and intelligence personnel, with our diplomats and our development experts, with the [U.S.] Congress and the [U.S.] vice president, as well as with Mr. Ghani [Afghan President Ashraf Ghani] and many others around the world, I concluded that it’s time to end America’s longest war. It’s time for American troops to come home.

The U.S. is set to begin its official drawdown of troops from Afghanistan on May 1. The U.S. War in Afghanistan launched in the fall of 2001 with the initial goal of driving the Afghan Taliban from power and denying the al-Qaeda terror group an operational base in the country.

The operation continued under unclear objectives in the two decades since then and is now the longest war in U.S. history. The U.S. was joined in the War in Afghanistan by an international coalition of countries including members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (N.A.T.O.). Some of the coalition members fought alongside allied security forces operated by Afghanistan’s internationally recognized government.

The Taliban refused to recognize Afghanistan’s government, based in Kabul, as legitimate and has continued to carry out attacks on Afghan government forces. The administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump brokered a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Doha, Qatar, in September 2020. The peace talks repeatedly stalled, however, with the Taliban perpetrating deadly attacks on Afghan government forces during the negotiation process.

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