Neoconservative House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) has slammed President Joe Biden’s reported plan to remove the remaining 2,500 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September.
“Withdrawing our forces from Afghanistan by September 11 will only embolden the very jihadists who attacked our homeland on that day twenty years ago,” Cheney declared Tuesday in a statement obtained by National Review. “By declaring that this withdrawal is not based on conditions on the ground, the Biden Administration is sending a dangerous signal that the United States fundamentally does not understand—or is willfully ignorant of—the terrorist threat.”
“President Biden’s decision hands the Taliban and al Qaeda a propaganda victory, abandons our global leadership position, and plays into our adversaries’ hands,” she added. “As we saw with President Obama’s reckless decision to pull troops out of Iraq in 2011, retreat does not end the fight against terrorism. It merely gives our enemies more room to reconstitute and plot attacks against the homeland.”
Biden will withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, missing President Donald Trump’s May 1 deadline. The president will reportedly announce the new deadline on Wednesday.
“We will reposition our counterterrorism capabilities retaining significant assets in the region to counter the potential reemergence of a terrorist threat to the homeland from Afghanistan and to hold the Taliban to its commitment to ensure Al Qaeda does not once again threaten the United States or our interests or our allies,” the senior official told CNBC earlier Tuesday.
According to the administration official, the only U.S. forces remaining in Afghanistan will be those needed to protect diplomats there. No exact number was provided, but American troop totals in Afghanistan have been understated by U.S. administrations for years. Officials have quietly acknowledged that there are hundreds more in Afghanistan than the official 2,500 number, and likely would include special operations forces conducting covert or counterterrorism missions, often working with intelligence agency personnel.
Biden’s new, extended timeline will allow a safe and orderly withdrawal of American troops in coordination with NATO allies, the administration official added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.