US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on April 14 said the moment has come to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. However, he also maintained that the allies would not abandon the country despite the impending pullout. Blinken’s comments come after US President Joe Biden announced that Washington will withdraw its remaining 2,500 troops from Afghanistan by September 11 - 20 years after the attacks in America that sparked its longest war.
Blinken said, “Together, we went into Afghanistan to deal with those who attacked us and to make sure that Afghanistan would not again become a haven for terrorists who might attack any of us”.
He added, “And together, we have achieved the goals that we set out to achieve. And now it is time to bring our forces home”.
Further, Blinken noted the mantra that has guided NATO’s Resolute Support mission. He said, “in together, adapt together, and out together”. Blinken added that the US will work “very closely together” on a “safe, deliberate and coordinated” withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan. He even went on to insist that despite the pull-out, US’ commitment to Afghanistan and to its future will remain.
Meanwhile, the Taliban has rejected the United States plan to restore peace in Afghanistan and they have also firmly opposed the proposed delay in the withdrawal of the American troops. Taliban's website Islamic Emirate has released a statement against the US President's decision of violating the Doha agreement. They have warned that the attacks will resume if the occupying forces do not leave on the specified date. They have also mentioned that the group will not abide by the agreement if one party violates it by extending the deadline. They further warned that the responsibility of the violence caused will be on the party that violates the agreement.
Taliban repeated their earlier threat to attack American and NATO forces if they do not leave on May 1. The message mentioned that any deal made with the Taliban will no more be valid if there is an extension in the deadline for the withdrawal of US troops is of no benefit. They further added that Afghanistan has been suffering due to insurgency for two decades and the violence and political dysfunction has worsened the situation in the country.
It is worth mentioning that last year, the United States and Taliban had signed a deal intending to end the conflict in Afghanistan. The agreement called for the US withdrawing its troops in return for security guarantees from the militants and a commitment to starting peace talks with the Afghan government. The Taliban committed to preventing Al Qaeda from using Afghan soil for activities that threaten the US or its allies. But now, the Biden administration is considering keeping US troops in Afghanistan until September 2021.