Taliban Backs Out of Planned Talks as US Extends Troop Presence

According to the report, Biden is expected to announce his decision on Wednesday.

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The Taliban on Tuesday warned that the group will not participate in any conference that will make decisions about Afghanistan, hours after the Washington Post reported that the Biden Administration will pull out its forces from the country by September 11.

“Until all foreign forces completely withdraw from our homeland, the Islamic Emirate will not participate in any conference that shall make decisions about Afghanistan,” tweeted Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban in Doha.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that “President Biden will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan over the coming months, people familiar with the plans said, completing the military exit by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that first drew the United States into its longest war.”

According to the report, Biden is expected to announce his decision on Wednesday.

“This is the immediate, practical reality that our policy review discovered,” the person familiar with the deliberations said. “If we break the May 1st deadline negotiated by the previous administration with no clear plan to exit, we will be back at war with the Taliban, and that was not something President Biden believed was in the national interest.”

Under the US-Taliban peace agreement signed on February 2020, all US forces stationed in Afghanistan must leave the country by May 1. But sources close to the Taliban have said that the Biden administration has asked the Taliban to agree on the presence of the US forces for another three or six months.

The Taliban’s refusal came hours after the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement announced that co-conveners of the UN-led peace conference on Afghanistan have decided to convene the conference on April 24.

Meanwhile, Stephen Dujarric, Spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General, has said that the Turkey conference on Afghanistan will focus on helping the negotiating parties to reach some fundamental principles for a future roadmap for a political agreement.

“The Istanbul Conference on the Afghanistan peace process is to accelerate and complement the ongoing intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha on the achievement of a just and durable political settlement,” said the UN spokesperson.

The Taliban have been saying that the presence of US forces in Afghanistan after a May 1 deadline is a violation of the Doha peace agreement.

“If the US does not honor its commitments and does not withdraw its forces as per May 1 deadline, the Taliban will also resume their attacks,” said Mawlana Jalaluddin Shinwari, a former Taliban member.

“The Taliban want power, only power, they do not want someone else to share it with them,” said Qazi Mohammad Amin Weqad, the former deputy head of high council of peace.

Meanwhile, Germany and Britain have also said they will withdraw their forces from Afghanistan simultaneously with the withdrawal of US troops from the country.

Currently, there are about 2,500 US forces and 8,000 NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Taliban Backs Out of Planned Talks as US Extends Troop Presence
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Biden tells Americans ‘we cannot continue the cycle’ in Afghanistan as he announces troop withdrawal

Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung and Tyler Pager

April 14, 2021 at 3:22 p.m. EDT
President Biden visits Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday.

President Biden formally announced Wednesday that the United States will withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, saying in a speech from the White House that more time and more troops have failed to end the conflict and that is now time to close down America’s longest war.

Biden did not declare a military victory. He said instead that a perpetual presence does not serve U.S. interests.

“It is time for American troops to come home,” he said in televised remarks from the Treaty Room, the same location where President George W. Bush announced that the war in Afghanistan had begun in 2001.

Biden said the United States has long since met its goal of responding to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, noting that it has been nearly a decade since U.S. commandos killed al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden.

“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” Biden said. “I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”

Biden said he had spoken with Bush in recent days to tell him of the decision.

Each president who has dealt with the war has been given a version of the same rationale for continuing to fight it, Biden said.

“The main argument for staying is what each of my three predecessors have grappled with. No one wants to say that we should be in Afghanistan forever, but they insist now is not the right moment to leave,” he said.

More than 2,000 U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan in a conflict that cost trillions but often lacked a clear objective.

“We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago,” Biden said. “That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021. Rather than return to war with the Taliban, we have to focus on the challenges that will determine our standing and reach today and into the years to come.”

The president said he understands the argument that the United States would lose leverage over Taliban insurgents by leaving, but said staying had not ended the war or achieved peace.

“We gave that argument a decade,” he said. “Not when we had 98,000 troops in Afghanistan. And not when we’re down to a few thousand. Our diplomacy does not hinge on having boots in harm’s way.”

A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters on Tuesday that the withdrawal “is not conditions-based.” Biden officials have concluded that when the United States has made its presence in Afghanistan dependent on improvements on the ground, they have failed to materialize.

Biden also thanked American troops and their families for service he said was not in vain.

“We as a nation are forever indebted to them,” Biden said.

Biden said he would follow the speech with a visit to the area of Arlington National Cemetery where dead from Afghanistan and Iraq are buried, and he invoked the example of his son Beau Biden, a reserve officer who served in Iraq and later died from a brain tumor.

Biden’s announcement comes as the United States will miss the May 1 deadline that the Trump administration negotiated with the Taliban last year for exiting the country. The United States officially has 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, but there are about 1,000 additional Special Forces personnel in the country.

NATO and other partners have thousands more stationed in Afghanistan.

Biden said the deal Trump struck with the Taliban isn’t perfect, but said he would substantially abide by it.

The decision to pull troops from the country comes at a perilous time, with military officials warning that a complete departure could lead to more terrorist activity.

Biden addressed those concerns in part by vowing to continue to support the Afghanistan government through diplomatic and humanitarian work.

“We will keep providing assistance to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces,” the president is expected to say. “Along with our partners, we are training and equipping nearly 300,000 personnel. And they continue to fight valiantly on behalf of their country and defend the Afghan people, at great cost. We will support peace talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, facilitated by the United Nations.”

Biden’s decision received support from liberal Democrats, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who praised the president for moving to end the prolonged military conflict. But some Republicans quickly attacked Biden, saying the decision was reckless and dangerous.

Biden tells Americans ‘we cannot continue the cycle’ in Afghanistan as he announces troop withdrawal
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The war in Afghanistan: Promises to win, but no vision for victory

Craig Whitlock

April 14, 2021 at 2:09 p.m. EDT
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Four days after the United States invaded Afghanistan, President George W. Bush appeared in the East Room of the White House for a prime-time news conference to address a nation gripped by fear and anger about the 9/11 attacks. Although most Americans supported Bush’s decision to go to war, there was widespread uncertainty about how the conflict would unfold and how long it might last.

Bush, then 55, had been in office for less than nine months. That evening, on Oct. 11, 2001, he sought to reassure the country that U.S. officials had learned hard lessons from the past and that they were determined not to get bogged down in an ill-defined war in a faraway land.

“We learned some very important lessons in Vietnam,” Bush said. “This is a different kind of war that requires a different type of approach and a different type of mentality.”

As for the expected duration of the war, Bush offered no definitive answers but flatly promised to win. “This particular battle front will last as long as it takes to bring al-Qaeda to justice,” he declared. “It may happen tomorrow, it may happen a month from now, it may take a year or two, but we will prevail.”

But from the outset, the U.S. government never defined the terms of victory. On Wednesday, President Biden announced the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops by September. Still unresolved is the question of what kind of outcome his three predecessors in the White House envisioned when they repeatedly pledged to win the war.

At first, the objective was to destroy al-Qaeda and ensure that the terrorist group could not use Afghanistan as a base to launch another terrorist attack on the United States. But within six months, that goal had been accomplished. Al-Qaeda’s leaders had either been killed, captured or had fled Afghanistan.

Rather than declare the war over, Bush broadened the mission. In April 2002, he announced new military and political objectives.

The United States, he said, would help its Afghan allies build a modernized nation, with a stable democracy, a strong national army, better medical care, and a new system of public education for boys and girls alike. “We know that true peace will only be achieved when we give the Afghan people the means to achieve their own aspirations,” he said in a speech at the Virginia Military Institute.

Although the goals were noble and high-minded, Bush offered no benchmarks for achieving them and gave no indication of how long U.S. troops would have to remain. “We will stay until the mission is done,” he said.

The next two commanders in chief of the war, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, put themselves in the same bind. Like Bush, they vowed to win in Afghanistan, raising expectations of a decisive military victory over a vanquished enemy.

But they neglected to specify what that meant or what U.S. troops would have to accomplish before they could come home. They also never clearly identified whom the United States was trying to defeat. Was the enemy al-Qaeda? Or also the Taliban? And what about the myriad other armed factions in Afghanistan that threatened to disrupt the country?

Army Gen. Dan McNeill, who served two stints as the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan during the Bush years, said the endgame was always opaque.

“I tried to get someone to define for me what winning meant, even before I went over, and nobody could,” McNeill later told government interviewers. “Some people were thinking in terms of Jeffersonian democracy, but that’s just not going to happen in Afghanistan.”

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As the war dragged on, U.S. officials kept insisting publicly that they were winning — even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. In private, however, they expressed serious doubts.

“Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror?” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wrote in a confidential memo to several top Pentagon officials in October 2003. He concluded by saying, “It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.”

By 2006, as the Taliban steadily regained strength and escalated its guerrilla campaign, the doubts became more severe.

“We are not winning in Afghanistan,” U.S. Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann warned officials in Washington in a diplomatic cable on Aug. 29, 2006. He added that there was “a broad Afghan perception that victory is slipping away.”

Yet in public, U.S. officials continued to declare the opposite.

“We are winning,” Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told ABC News just two weeks after Neumann wrote his pessimistic cable. Asked whether the United States could lose the war, Eikenberry responded: “Losing is not an option in Afghanistan.”

Two years later, U.S. field commanders pleaded with the Pentagon for reinforcements because they were losing ground to the Taliban, which they estimated had grown in strength to 7,000 to 11,000 fighters. But U.S. military officials struggled to reconcile their requests for troops with their repeated assurances of victory.

In September 2008, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, the commander of U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, was pressed by reporters on whether he thought his soldiers were still winning. “Let me just say that we’re not losing a war out here, by any means,” he said. “It’s a slow win, I guess.”

By the time Obama took office in 2009, U.S. military officials acknowledged that they were facing a worsening insurgency. The new president announced an expansive strategy to send thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan and spend tens of billions of dollars to build up the still-wobbly government in Kabul. “To the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same: We will defeat you,” Obama said in March 2009.

Once again, however, no one in his administration could articulate what winning meant.

“How are we going to know when this is over? How does this end?” Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) asked Michèle Flournoy, Obama’s undersecretary of defense for policy, and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus at a congressional hearing in April 2009.

Flournoy gave a complicated and long-winded answer.

“I think that a key point of defining success is when both the Afghans and the Pakistanis have both the capability and the will to deal with the remaining threat themselves — that the period of extraordinary intervention and assistance comes to a transition point and we go to a more long-term, normal development assistance relationship with both countries,” she said. “To me, it is when that — when they — when we have reduced the threat and built that capacity locally to the point where they can be much more self-reliant in managing this problem.”

Petraeus added, “Well, I guess I’d echo that.”

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Obama administration officials became entangled in other contradictions. On one hand, they began to acknowledge that an outright military victory was unlikely and that the only practical way to end the conflict was for Afghanistan’s warring parties to reach “a political solution.”

On the other hand, as the number of U.S. troops reached 100,000, Obama’s generals kept trying to bludgeon the Taliban into submission instead of encouraging diplomacy.

“Our argument was that we only have the insurgency because we don’t have a political settlement. And if we don’t address it, the military won’t be able to,” Barnett Rubin, a senior State Department adviser, later told government interviewers. But Rubin added that officials at the Pentagon and the CIA saw little reason to negotiate with the Taliban and defined reconciliation as “we’ll be nice to people who surrender.”

In public, some Obama administration officials began to hedge their bets.

At a congressional hearing in June 2011, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates was asked whether the United States was winning or losing in Afghanistan.

“I have learned a few things in 4½ years,” he replied. “And one of them is to try and stay away from loaded words like ‘winning’ and ‘losing.’ What I will say is that I believe we are being successful in implementing the president’s strategy.”

A week later, at another congressional hearing, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walked the same fine line.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of winning or losing,” she said. “It think it’s a matter of how we measure the success we are seeking in Afghanistan.”

But, as with the terms of victory, nobody defined success with any specificity.

Obama’s strategy hinged on his plan to train and equip an Afghan security force of 352,000 troops and paramilitary police who could take over the fighting from U.S. forces. For most of Obama’s presidency, his commanders expressed complete confidence in the approach and predicted that Afghan forces would win the war with U.S. help.

In February 2013, Marine Gen. John Allen, the outgoing commander of U.S. and NATO troops, promised that Afghan forces were ready to take control of the fighting. “This is victory,” he said. “This is what winning looks like. And we should not shrink from using those words.”

Other generals adopted a similar bravado.

“I talk a lot about winning these days and I firmly believe that we’re on a path to win,” Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Allen’s successor, said at a military ceremony in Kabul in May 2013.

Dunford’s deputy, Army Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, echoed his boss at the ceremony when he addressed Afghan troops on the parade ground.

“You will win this war and we will be there with you every step of the way,” said Milley, who now serves as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He proclaimed that they were “on the road to victory, on the road to winning, on the road to creating a stable Afghanistan.”

Obama pledged to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of his second term. But he reversed himself and ordered about 8,400 troops to remain when it became apparent that the Afghan security forces were incapable of fending off the Taliban on their own.

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By the time Trump moved into the White House in 2017, things looked bleak. The Taliban had grown more powerful — not weaker — during Obama’s eight years in office, accumulating an estimated 60,000 fighters under its command. The Afghan army and police were taking so many casualties that the government in Kabul kept the numbers a secret to avoid destroying morale.

“We are not winning in Afghanistan right now,” Jim Mattis, Trump’s defense secretary, acknowledged to the Senate Armed Services Committee in June 2017.

Such gloomy talk infuriated Trump, who made clear to the Pentagon that he would not tolerate defeatist rhetoric.

In August 2017, he announced his own new war strategy. In a speech at Fort Myer in Virginia, he vowed not just to end the 16-year-old conflict, but to win it — once and for all.

“Our troops will fight to win,” Trump said. “From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terrorist attacks before they emerge.”

Trump re-escalated the war by raising U.S. troop levels to 14,000. He also ordered an intensive campaign of airstrikes that dropped more bombs and fired more missiles than at any other time in the conflict.

But Trump wasn’t really banking on an outright military victory.

Under his strategy, U.S. forces were simply trying to weaken the Taliban to gain political leverage for peace talks. In February 2020, the Trump administration reached a deal with the Taliban that set the stage for the gradual withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the country.

That finally stopped all the promises that the United States would win the longest war in its history.

The war in Afghanistan: Promises to win, but no vision for victory
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Biden will withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021

Missy Ryan and Karen DeYoung

April 13, 2021 at 2:45 p.m. EDT
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President Biden will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan over the coming months, U.S. officials said, completing the military exit by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that drew the United States into its longest war.

The decision, which Biden is expected to announce Wednesday, will keep thousands of U.S. forces in the country beyond the May 1 exit deadline that the Trump administration negotiated last year with the Taliban, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters Tuesday under rules of anonymity set by the White House.

While the Taliban has promised to renew attacks on U.S. and NATO personnel if foreign troops are not out by the deadline — and said in a statement it would not continue to participate in “any conference” about Afghanistan’s future until all “foreign forces” have departed — it is not clear whether the militants will follow through with the earlier threats given Biden’s plan for a phased withdrawal between now and September. The Taliban has conducted sputtering talks with the Afghan government, begun under the Trump deal, since last fall. It was also invited to an additional high-level inter-Afghan discussion in Turkey later this month.

Officially, there are 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, although the number fluctuates and is currently about 1,000 more than that. There are also up to an additional 7,000 foreign forces in the coalition there, the majority of them NATO troops.

Biden’s decision comes after an administration review of U.S. ­options in Afghanistan, where U.S.-midwifed peace talks have failed to advance as hoped and the Taliban remains a potent force despite two decades of effort by the United States to defeat the militants and establish stable, democratic governance. The war has cost trillions of dollars in addition to the lives of more than 2,000 U.S. service members. At least 100,000 Afghan civilians have been injured or killed.

“This is the immediate, practical reality that our policy review discovered,” said one person familiar with the closed-door deliberations who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy planning. “If we break the May 1st deadline negotiated by the previous administration with no clear plan to exit, we will be back at war with the Taliban, and that was not something President Biden believed was in the national interest.”

The goal is to move to “zero” troops by September, the senior administration official said. “This is not conditions-based. The president has judged that a conditions-based approach . . . is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever. He has reached the conclusion that the United States will complete its drawdown and will remove its forces from Afghanistan before September 11th.”

The decision highlights the trade-offs the Biden administration is willing to make to shift the U.S. global focus from the counterinsurgency campaigns that dominated the post-9/11 world to current priorities, including increasing military competition with China.

In addition to major domestic challenges, “the reality is that the United States has big strategic interests in the world,” the person familiar with the deliberations said, “like nonproliferation; like an increasingly aggressive and assertive Russia; like North Korea and Iran, whose nuclear programs pose a threat to the United States;” like China. “The main threats to the American homeland are actually from other places: from Africa, from parts of the Middle East — Syria and Yemen.”

“Afghanistan just does not rise to the level of those other threats at this point,” the person said. “That does not mean we’re turning away from Afghanistan. We are going to remain committed to the government, remain committed diplomatically. But in terms of where we will be investing force posture, our blood and treasure, we believe that other priorities merit that investment.”

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Reaction in Washington was divided. In a statement on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the plan “reckless” and “a grave mistake. It is retreat in the face of an enemy that has not yet been vanquished and abdication of American leadership.”

McConnell pointed to a 2019 amendment — passed by a supermajority of senators when President Donald Trump called for full withdrawal from Syria — that requires the administration to “certify that conditions have been met for the enduring defeat of al-Qaeda and [the Islamic State] before initiating any significant withdrawal of United States forces from Syria or Afghanistan.”

“Can President Biden certify that right now?” McConnell asked.

But while McConnell cited “broad political support” for an ongoing military presence in ­Afghanistan, other lawmakers called it the right decision.

“There are no good, easy decisions here,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “Given the options, I think this is the best choice.”

“We cannot impose a solution on Afghanistan,” Smith said in an interview. “I don’t doubt for a second there is going to continue to be violence and turbulence,” but the main transnational terrorist threat is now elsewhere. “We can only be in so many places. We have to make choices, and those choices are not easy. It’s not as if we didn’t put in the time in Afghanistan.”

Some officials have warned that a U.S. exit will lead to the collapse of the Kabul government while jeopardizing gains made over the past two decades in health, education and women’s rights.

Biden administration officials say the United States intends to remain closely involved in the peace process and will continue to provide humanitarian aid and assistance to the Afghan government and security forces, which remain almost totally dependent on foreign support.

“What we will not do is use our troops as bargaining chips,” the senior official said.

“We went to Afghanistan to deliver justice to those who attacked us on September 11th. . . . We believe we achieved that objective some years ago,” the senior official said, and now judge the threat to the United States “to be at a level that we can address it without a persistent military footprint.”

Biden, who argued unsuccessfully during the Obama administration for a small, counterterrorism-focused presence, had already hinted that the United States would remain for only a limited time beyond the May 1 deadline.

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Late last month, he said he did not expect U.S. troops to be deployed there next year. “We will leave,” he said at a White House news conference. “But the question is when we leave.”

Administration officials were in the process of notifying officials in NATO nations as well as Afghan officials and the Taliban on Tuesday. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in a statement from his office, said he would have no comment until an upcoming phone call with Biden “to officially share details of the new withdrawal plan.”

The senior official also said the Taliban was reminded of its commitments under the Trump deal and warned against attacking departing U.S. forces. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the militants would officially respond “when the U.S. formally announces” its plans, presumably by Biden on Wednesday.

The official said the U.S. withdrawal would be fully coordinated with NATO and other coalition partners. Citing NATO’s “in together, out together” mantra, the senior official said, “We will take the time we need to execute that, and no more time than that.” The official said withdrawal would begin before May 1 and might well be completed before September.

Many NATO governments have said they have no desire or ability to remain without the logistical, security and other support the U.S. forces provide.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday, are informing their NATO counterparts. Germany has the second-largest force in Afghanistan, numbering over 1,000. Officials there have cautioned that they would need months to organize an orderly departure.

In early March, Blinken launched a last-ditch diplomatic effort to bring the Taliban and the Afghan government together to end the war with an interim ­power-sharing deal. He warned Ghani in a sharply worded letter that time was growing short.

The hope was to accelerate a negotiating process begun under Trump in 2019, when White House envoy Zalmay Khalilzad started talks with militant leaders in Doha, the capital of Qatar. That led to a February 2020 agreement signed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo under which the United States pledged to withdraw its forces by May 1, 2021, in exchange for Taliban severance of all ties with al-Qaeda and agreement to begin negotiations with the Afghan government toward a cease-fire and peace accord.

While the inter-Afghan talks began in September, they have made little progress. At the same time, the Taliban has increased its attacks on Afghan troops and expanded its territorial control. As the new administration launched its review, the Pentagon and the United Nations reported that the militants had not complied with their commitments under the Trump agreement.

Many Afghan experts have concluded that the Taliban is moving closer to a military victory, but that it may be reluctant to take over as a pariah government, which could result in a loss of international support and financial aid for the country.

Biden’s choice was a stark one. With U.S. public opinion and Congress divided, staying could lead to political difficulties at home and renewed Taliban attacks on U.S. forces. But an abrupt American departure could undermine any achievements made in the past two decades, reduce the possibility of a peace deal and lead to a Taliban takeover.

John Sopko, the independent special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, warned Congress last month that U.S. withdrawal without a peace deal in place would be “a disaster” and mean government collapse. Others have warned of civil war, as regional warlords have amassed and armed their own forces.

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Blinken’s warning to Ghani, along with the interim government proposal, seemed to have little effect. He called for a conference of Taliban and Afghan leaders to take place in Turkey this month and a U.N.-convened meeting of regional governments, including Iran, along with the United States, to push diplomacy.

Although Turkey announced Tuesday that the Afghan meeting would go ahead on April 24, Mohammad Naeem, spokesman for the Taliban political office, said in a tweet Tuesday that “until all foreign forces completely withdraw from our homeland,” the group would “not participate in any conference that shall make decisions about Afghanistan.”

No U.N. meeting has been confirmed. Khalilzad’s shuttle diplomacy among the Afghans and with regional leaders has yet to bring the two sides together in agreement.

The person familiar with the administration’s deliberations rejected the suggestion that these apparent failures precipitated Biden’s decision. The United States, the person said, would continue its diplomatic efforts to bring peace. But time had proved that the presence of U.S. troops, even at much higher levels, was not effective leverage at moving the parties beyond where they have been willing to go, he said.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), a former CIA analyst and senior security official in administrations of both parties, said Congress would need a full accounting of plans to secure U.S. diplomats in Afghanistan and ensure that global extremists from al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are unable to gain renewed strength.

The senior official said any ­potential for a resurgence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, where U.S. intelligence assesses its presence as relatively small, “will be met with vigilance.”

Drawing on the “lesson from Iraq,” where the Islamic State turned into a major fighting force after the bulk of U.S. troops left, “we have to have the intelligence and military capabilities positioned in the region and the attention of our national security apparatus sufficiently focused to ensure” that if al-Qaeda “begins to emerge,” the United States “will deal with it,” the senior official said.

While officials said Biden would end the military mission entirely, they acknowledged that an undetermined number of troops would remain to secure the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, where diplomats would be vulnerable if security deteriorates in the Afghan capital.

During his campaign, Biden said his preference was to leave a counterterrorism force of about 1,500 troops in Afghanistan even as other forces withdrew. That now appears to be off the table.

But it’s unclear how the administration may use civilian contractors and intelligence officials now working with military personnel to retain a capacity to discern and respond to extremist threats. The U.S. government has routinely assigned military personnel under CIA or other intelligence agency authority in overseas missions, allowing them to conduct certain activities without technically counting as part of a military footprint. The senior official declined to comment on the issue.

Retired Gen. Colin L. Powell, a former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the decision to leave was overdue. “I wouldn’t say enough is enough,” said Powell, who led George W. Bush’s State Department during the 9/11 attacks and the beginning of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. “I’d say we’ve done all we can do. . . . What are those troops being told they’re there for? It’s time to bring it to an end.”

The Soviet Union, which occupied Afghanistan for a decade until it abruptly withdrew in 1989, “did it the same way,” Powell said. “They got tired, and they marched out and back home. How long did anybody remember that?”

Susannah George in Kabul contributed to this report.

Biden will withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021
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Taliban Not Ready to Attend Turkey Summit on April 16

12 April 2021

Taliban says it is reviewing the details of the Turkey conference agenda shared with them by the United States.

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The Taliban is not ready to attend the Turkey conference on the expected date, April 16, given their consultations on the details of the event, spokesman Mohammad Naeem said. 

He said the Taliban is reviewing the details of the Turkey conference agenda shared with them by the United States.

Naeem said that the leadership of the group has not made a final decision on the agenda and the formation of its delegation for the Istanbul conference. He said they will soon announce their stance on the issue.

“The Taliban has said that things will not move forward unless the issue of withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan is made clear, therefore, I think that the Turkey conference will not be held unless these issues are made clear,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

The details of the agenda have also been shared with the Afghan government, according to sources within the Presidential Palace.

Meanwhile, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, left Kabul on Monday after a four-day visit during which he met with Afghan political leaders, the civil society and youth.

“It had two messages: one is that less time is available and you should hurry in making the list. And another message is that the Taliban’s demands for attending the summit has been shared with the republic,” said Rahmatullah Nabil, the former head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency.

As a new development, a 15-member committee under the High Council for National Reconciliation finalized its review on unifying a peace proposal after assessing at least 25 proposals, including the one proposed by President Ghani.

The unified proposal that will need approval by the leadership committee of the council puts forward two options, including Ghani’s proposal for a republic system and a “semi-presidential” system.

A copy of the proposal that has been leaked to the media shows that it has 14 pages and suggests a three-year term for a transitional peace government and that its term is extendable.

According to the document, the transitional peace government includes an executive branch, a judicial branch, a national assembly, a national Islamic jurisdiction council, the high council of government and a commission for the amendment of the constitution.

The proposal calls for the executive branch to include a president with his four deputies, including a woman, a prime minister with his four deputies, including a woman, cabinet ministers and independent directorates.

It is expected that the leadership committee of the reconciliation council will make a final decision on unifying the proposed plan reviewed by the 15-member committee. A proposal that is finalized by the leadership committee will be presented at the Turkey conference on Afghanistan.

Taliban Not Ready to Attend Turkey Summit on April 16
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Blinken to Travel to Brussels for Talks on Afghanistan, Ukraine; Khalilzad Leaves Kabul after Meeting with Afghan Leaders

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will join Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Brussels.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return to Brussels this week for discussions on Iran, Afghanistan and Russian activities directed at Ukraine, a US official said as quoted by Reuters.

Blinken will join US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Brussels, Reuters reported.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity on Saturday, did not release additional details on the trip, according to Reuters report.

Austin was scheduled to visit NATO headquarters in Belgium on a trip that started on Saturday and also includes Israel, Germany and Britain, the Pentagon said last week.

Reuters reports that the trip by two of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet members coincides with increasing tensions over Russian activities near Ukraine’s eastern border, where Washington says Russia has amassed more troops than at any time since 2014, when it annexed Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine on Friday of “dangerous provocative actions” in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region.

Turkey, a NATO ally, said on Friday the United States would deploy two warships to the Black Sea from April 14-15, according to Reuters.

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Khalilzad Leaves Kabul after Meeting with Afghan Leaders

Khalilzad underscored why it was important both sides accelerate the peace process, a statement said.

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US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad left Kabul on Monday morning after a four-day visit speaking with Afghan government and political leaders as well as civil society and diplomatic representatives, US Embassy in Kabul said in a statement.

“Khalilzad completed a productive four-day visit to Kabul. He met with government and political leaders, civil society activist and the diplomatic community to discuss preparations for the upcoming Istanbul Conference,” the statement said.

“In each engagement, Ambassador Khalilzad underscored why it was important both sides accelerate the peace process. He also re-affirmed the United State’s enduring partnership with Afghanistan,” it said.

The statement also mentioned: “In these meetings, Ambassador Khalilzad stated that the full and meaningful participation of women and minorities in the peace talks is essential for any solution to be sustainable, in addition to emphasizing the critical role civil society members and youth groups have in representing the broader Afghan population.”

In all the meetings, Khalilzad was encouraged by the shared vision for an Istanbul conference that advances prospects for a just and durable peace in Afghanistan, the statement said.

Sources at the Presidential Palace said that Khalilzad has shared the agenda of the Turkey conference and that all sides are prepared for the summit. But the Taliban said that they have not made a final decision on their participation in the meeting.

Sources close to the Taliban said that the group is seeking the release of its 7,000 prisoners and the removal of their leaders’ names from UN black list in exchange for 45 to 90 days presence of US forces following the May 1 deadline.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said he has received the final draft of the republic’s peace proposal from the sub-committee of the Leadership Committee of the reconciliation council.

The plan will be presented at the Turkey conference on behalf of the Afghan government once it is approved by Presidential Palace.

According to the reconciliation council, the proposal stresses the need for preserving and strengthening the current Republic system, citizens’ rights, human rights, freedom of media, freedom of speech, election, preservation of national institutions and permanent end to the war.

Blinken to Travel to Brussels for Talks on Afghanistan, Ukraine; Khalilzad Leaves Kabul after Meeting with Afghan Leaders
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Afghan President in ‘Desperate Situation’ as His Power Is Undermined

The New York Times

Ashraf Ghani has few remaining allies, the Taliban are gaining militarily, and his international supporters are impatient with him and the stumbling peace process.

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan arriving for the opening ceremony of the new session of Parliament in Kabul last month.
Credit… Mariam Zuhaib/Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — He attends international conferences, meets with diplomats, recently inaugurated a dam and delivers patriotic speeches vowing to defend his country against the Taliban.

But how much control President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan has over his imperiled country’s future and his own has become a matter of debate among politicians, analysts and citizens. Or rather, the question has been largely resolved: not much.

From most vantage points, Mr. Ghani — well qualified for his job and deeply credentialed, with Johns Hopkins, Berkeley, Columbia, the World Bank and the United Nations in his background — is thoroughly isolated. A serious author with a first-class intellect, he is dependent on the counsel of a handful, unwilling to even watch television news, those who know him say, and losing allies fast.

That spells trouble for a country where a hard-line Islamist insurgency has the upper hand militarily, where nearly half the population faces hunger at crisis levels, according to the United Nations, where the overwhelming balance of government money comes from abroad and where weak governance and widespread corruption are endemic.

Meanwhile, the Americans are preparing to pull out their last remaining troops, a prospect expected to lead to the medium-term collapse of the Afghan forces they now support.

“He is in a desperate situation,” said Rahmatullah Nabil, a former head of the country’s intelligence services. “We’re getting weaker. Security is weak, everything is getting weaker, and the Taliban are taking advantage.”

The United States has steadily distanced itself from Mr. Ghani, 71, and has frequently worked around him to deal with the Taliban and regional power brokers. Afghan warlords, potent centers of alternative power, openly condemn or flout him.

The country’s Parliament twice rejected his budget and distrusts him. His principal adversaries, the Taliban, refuse to entertain the idea of a deal with Mr. Ghani. His mandate, weak from the outset — voter turnout was around 18.7 percent in his sharply contested 2019 victory, according to Afghanistan’ Independent Election Commission — appears to have shrunk.

Supporters of Afghanistan 1400, a civic-political youth movement, holding posters of Mr. Ghani during a protest over the inclusion of ethnicity on Afghan identification cards in Kabul last month.
Credit…Jawed Kargar/EPA, via Shutterstock

American officials have mostly lost patience with him. Many are fed up with what they see as his obstinacy in refusing to make concessions to adversaries, or his condescending style. “Dead man walking,” is the term some civil society members use to describe his political standing.

A recent letter to him from Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was so harsh that even Afghans critical of Mr. Ghani found it insulting.

In language more likely to be used with an unruly schoolboy than a head of state, the letter repeated the phrase “I urge you” three times. “I must also make clear to you, Mr. President,” Mr. Blinken continued, “that as our policy process continues in Washington, the United States has not ruled out any option.” The unspoken subtext was clear: Your influence is minimal.

“As an Afghan, a sense of humiliation comes over you,” said Hekmat Khalil Karzai, the head of an Afghan think tank and a cousin of the former president, Hamid Karzai. “But I also feel Ghani deserves it,” Mr. Karzai said. “He’s dealing with the kiss of death from his own closest partner.”

The Biden administration is banking on multinational talks, tentatively set for later this month in Istanbul, to establish a plan for moving forward. At the heart of the U.S. proposal is a temporary government to hold power until elections can be held.

In this interim body, the Taliban and the current government would share power, according to a leaked draft. Such a setup could require Mr. Ghani to step down, a move he has repeatedly refused to consider.

Mr. Ghani has come up with a counterproposal that he plans to release soon, which calls for a cease-fire, a temporary “government of peace” whose potential makeup remains unclear, and then early elections in which he promises not to run.

Both the American plan and Mr. Ghani’s could be non-starters, as the Taliban have never said they would agree to elections, nor have they indicated that they would go along with any sort of government plan or be content with power-sharing.

Mr. Ghani meeting with Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, center left, and their delegations, last month.
Credit…Presidential Palace, via Associated Press

“From what we’re seeing, they want absolute power, and they are waiting to take power by force,” Mr. Ghani’s national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, said in an interview.

While Mr. Ghani is steadily losing political capital in Kabul and with international partners, the country’s military position is deteriorating. Each day brings news of security force members blown up or gunned down.

“They can’t keep doing that,” said a senior Western diplomat in Kabul, commenting on the steady attrition. “The toll on the government, and the credibility and legitimacy it has, it’s not sustainable.”

Visions of September 1996, when the Taliban rolled into Kabul virtually unopposed and proceeded to establish their harsh regime, haunt the capital.

Deep inside the presidential palace compound, an 83-acre parklike campus protected by seven layers of security, Mr. Ghani’s inner circle of close aides is small and shrinking. He fired his respected interior minister, an army general, after a military helicopter was shot down by one of the country’s numerous militias last month. His attorney general, who had a rare reputation for integrity, stepped down. He pushed out his short-tenured finance minister.

Mr. Ghani planting a tree during a ceremony to mark the Persian new year at the presidential palace in Kabul last month.
Credit…Hedayatullah Amid/EPA, via Shutterstock

One senior former official argued that he was cut off from reality and what is going on on the ground.

Mr. Mohib, however, pushed back on this assessment. “This criticism comes from a political elite which thinks it has been marginalized,” he said.

Some former officials characterized Mr. Ghani as being compelled to micromanage, including involving himself in the details of military matters and personnel decisions even down to the local police chief level. “He likes that, because he feels he’s the only one,” said Mr. Karzai, meaning the only one competent to make serious decisions.

Mr. Mohib called the micromanagement accusation “a huge exaggeration,” saying that the president had not attended a security meeting “in weeks,” adding that “he is aware of the strategic picture.”

Mr. Ghani’s communications office did not agree to a request for an interview with the president. A senior aide did not respond to an interview request.

The consequences of Mr. Ghani’s isolation appear to be unfolding in real time. The president has a potent vision for the country, but selling it and making it work politically is not his strong suit, and it shows up in the nation’s divisions, said the senior Western diplomat in Kabul. That’s not good for Afghan unity, the diplomat argued.

Mr. Ghani depicted on a carpet at an exhibition during celebrations to mark the Persian new year in Kabul, last month.
Credit…Omar Sobhani/Reuters

These divisions echo out from Kabul into the country’s fractious regions, where independent militias and other longstanding power-brokers have either rearmed themselves or are preparing to do so.

In the center of the country, a low-intensity fight between government forces and the militia of a minority Shiite warlord has been smoldering for months, fueled by the downing of an Afghan forces helicopter in March. Mr. Ghani and his aides have taken an active role in managing the conflict, to the dismay of the Afghan military.

“This is what we wanted to avoid. We are already stretched,” said a senior Afghan security official. “And here, you want to start another war?”

The upcoming talks in Turkey could well end up like the recent ones in Moscow and Dushanbe, Tajikistan — with bland communiqués deploring violence and hoping for peace. The American idea — to substitute new talks in a new locale for the old talks in Qatar that have gone nowhere — is not necessarily a winning bet. Indeed, the early signs are not promising, with Mr. Ghani once again rejecting preliminary American proposals, and the Taliban aggressively noncommittal about the ideas currently on the table.

“If the U.S. pulls out, and there is no political agreement, then we are in deep trouble,” said the senior Afghan security official.

“Militarily, we don’t have much hope,” he said. “If we don’t get something, the Taliban are going to march. It’s going to be a severe battle.”

Fahim Abed contributed reporting.

Afghan President in ‘Desperate Situation’ as His Power Is Undermined
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Turkey Conference Will Complement Doha Talks: US Official; Afghans See Turkey Summit Historic Opportunity for Peace

The US State Department spokesperson says the Turkey conference is aimed to accelerate the Afghan peace efforts.

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An official of the US Department of State on Thursday said that the Turkey conference will complement the ongoing peace talks between the negotiating teams representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban and that the United States will be aimed at accelerating the Afghan peace efforts.

“The gathering, as in all facets of this process, will be Afghan-owned and supported by high-level attendants from the international community, building on recent international meetings in support of the peace process,” Ned Price, spokesperson for the US Department of State, said at a press briefing on Thursday.

“This upcoming conference, it’s meant to help Afghan negotiators to make progress, to make progress in their negotiations, and will complement the peace talks that are currently ongoing in Doha,” she said.

Price said that US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad remains in Doha and that he continues to engage with the parties on this very task, helping the parties, supporting the parties in this Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process to reach a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire.

“We are working with our Turkish counterparts and the Afghan parties to prepare for constructive participation in this conference,” she said.

In a question on meeting the May 1 deadline for withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, Price said that the Biden administration “is committed to bringing a responsible end to the conflict, committed to removing our troops from harm’s way, and committed to ensuring that Afghanistan can never again become a haven for terrorists who would threaten the United States or our allies.”

She said that the US has sought to galvanize the diplomacy between the parties knowing that there is no military solution to what we face in Afghanistan.

“It’s precisely why at all levels, the President, the Secretary of State, Ambassador Khalilzad and his team have been working tirelessly, including in the region, including in Doha, including in Turkey, including in Russia just the other week to see to it or to lay the groundwork as best we can for those two things we seek to accomplish: a comprehensive political settlement, and a comprehensive ceasefire,” she said.

This comes as a 15-member committee under the High Council for National Reconciliation responsible for consolidating the dozens of peace plan proposals provided by Afghan leaders wrapped up its work on Thursday.

The committee, which is led by former vice president Mohammad Yunus Qanooni, assessed at least 25 peace proposals provided by different parties, including President Ghani’s peace plan, according to the reconciliation council.

“After five working sessions, the assessment and analysis of views offered by political parties, the government, civil society, the media and citizens were assessed and consolidated,” the reconciliation council said in a statement.

According to the statement, the committee is scheduled to hold its last meeting on Saturday to review the views offered.

Following this review, the draft peace plan will be presented at a meeting of the leadership committee of the High Council of National Reconciliation, the statement said.

The reconciliation council officials said this week that the council will present a unified peace plan at the upcoming Turkey conference.

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Afghans See Turkey Summit Historic Opportunity for Peace

Participants of the gathering issued a declaration, calling on UN to consider their demands in the Turkey summit.

تصویر بندانگشتی

Thousands of people gathered Friday at Ghazi Football Stadium in Kabul to oppose further violence in the country and expressed their support to the upcoming UN-led conference on Afghanistan in Turkey.

Those attended the gathering recalled the upcoming summit in Turkey a unique opportunity for peace and said that Afghanistan’s values and gains in the areas of women’s rights, elections, press freedom and democratic principles reflected in the Constitution should be preserved.

Participants at the gathering also called for an immediate end to the war.

They call on the warring parties to agree on a ceasefire at the conference.

“We want a peace that is acceptable to all parties,” said Babakarkhel, a resident of Kabul.

“One of the fundamental demands is the holding of transparent and neutral elections,” said Sayed Ali Kazimi, the head of Hizb-e-Harakat-e-Islami.

A number of Afghan political leaders, lawmakers and religious dignitaries also attended the gathering.

“The people of Afghanistan do not want a unilateral peace to be imposed on them whether from the national or international and national channels,” said Abdul Qader Qalatwal.

“We are here today to reflect the sentiment and aspiration of the people to the international community. Afghans are thirsty for peace and justice,” said Mahmoud Kalakani, a resident in Kalakan.

“We don’t want a government in which there is no respect to law, human rights, women’s rights and liberty as we experienced it in the past,” said Mohammad Yaqoub Haidari, the governor of Kabul.

Participants of the gathering also issued a declaration in which they called on UN to consider their demands in the Turkey conference.

Turkey Conference Will Complement Doha Talks: US Official; Afghans See Turkey Summit Historic Opportunity for Peace
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Biden seems ready to extend US troop presence in Afghanistan

By ROBERT BURNS

Associated Press
8 April 2021
FILE – In this Nov. 28, 2019, file photo armed soldiers stand guard in the motorcade for President Donald Trump speaks during a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to the troops at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. Without coming right out and saying it, President Joe Biden seems ready to let lapse a May 1 deadline for completing a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Orderly withdrawals take time, and Biden is running out of it. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Without coming right out and saying it, President Joe Biden seems ready to let lapse a May 1 deadline for completing a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Orderly withdrawals take time, and Biden is running out of it.

Biden has inched so close to the deadline that his indecision amounts almost to a decision to put off, at least for a number of months, a pullout of the remaining 2,500 troops and continue supporting the Afghan military at the risk of a Taliban backlash. Removing all of the troops and their equipment in the next three weeks — along with coalition partners that cannot get out on their own — would be difficult logistically, as Biden himself suggested in late March.

“It’s going to be hard to meet the May 1 deadline,” he said. “Just in terms of tactical reasons, it’s hard to get those troops out.” Tellingly, he added, “And if we leave, we’re going to do so in a safe and orderly way.”

James Stavridis, a retired Navy admiral who served as NATO’s top commander from 2009 to 2013, says it would be unwise at this point to get out quickly.

“Sometimes not making a decision becomes a decision, which seems the case with the May 1 deadline,” Stavridis said in an email exchange Wednesday. “The most prudent course of action feels like a six-month extension and an attempt to get the Taliban truly meeting their promises — essentially permitting a legitimate ‘conditions based’ withdrawal in the fall.”

There are crosscurrents of pressure on Biden. On the one hand, he has argued for years, including during his time as vice president, when President Barack Obama ordered a huge buildup of U.S. forces, that Afghanistan is better handled as a smaller-scale counterterrorism mission. Countering Russia and China has since emerged as a higher priority.

On the other hand, current and former military officers have argued that leaving now, with the Taliban in a position of relative strength and the Afghan government in a fragile state, would risk losing what has been gained in 20 years of fighting.

“A withdrawal would not only leave America more vulnerable to terrorist threats; it would also have catastrophic effects in Afghanistan and the region that would not be in the interest of any of the key actors, including the Taliban,” a bipartisan experts group known as the Afghan Study Group concluded in a February report. The group, whose co-chair, retired Gen. Joseph Dunford, is a former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, recommended Biden extend the deadline beyond May, preferably with some sort of agreement by the Taliban.

If the troops stay, Afghanistan will become Biden’s war. His decisions, now and in coming months, could determine the legacy of a 2001 U.S. invasion that was designed as a response to al-Qaida’s Sept. 11 attacks, for which the extremist group led by Osama bin Laden used Afghanistan as a haven.

Biden said during the 2020 campaign that if elected he might keep a counterterrorism force in Afghanistan but also would “end the war responsibly” to ensure U.S. forces never have to return. The peace talks that began last fall between the Taliban and the Afghan government are seen as the best hope, but they have produced little so far.

Postponing the U.S. withdrawal carries the risk of the Taliban resuming attacks on U.S. and coalition forces, possibly escalating the war. In a February 2020 agreement with the administration of President Donald Trump, the Taliban agreed to halt such attacks and hold peace talks with the Afghan government, in exchange for a U.S. commitment to a complete withdrawal by May 2021.

When he entered the White House in January, Biden knew of the looming deadline and had time to meet it if he had chosen to do so. It became a steep logistical hurdle only because he put off a decision in favor of consulting at length inside his administration and with allies. Flying thousands of troops and their equipment out of Afghanistan in the next three weeks under the potential threat of Taliban resistance is not technically impossible, although it would appear to violate Biden’s promise not to rush.

Biden undertook a review of the February 2020 agreement shortly after taking office, and as recently as Tuesday aides said he was still contemplating a way ahead in Afghanistan. White House press secretary Jen Psaki stressed that May 1 was a deadline set by the prior administration and that a decision was complicated.

“But it’s also an important decision — one he needs to make in close consultation with our allies and also with our national security team here in this administration,” Psaki said. “And we want to give him the time to do that.”

In briefings on Afghanistan, Biden would have heard from military commanders such as Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, who have said publicly and repeatedly that the Taliban have not fully lived up to the commitments they made in the February 2020 agreement. McKenzie and others have said violence levels are too high for a durable political settlement to be made.

Congress has been cautious about reducing the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Last year it expressly forbade the Pentagon from using funds to reduce below 4,000 troops, but the Pentagon went ahead anyway after Trump ordered a reduction to 2,500 after he lost the election. Trump got around the legal prohibition by signing a waiver.

Biden seems ready to extend US troop presence in Afghanistan
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 UN warns of 70pc increase in Afghan poverty

Afghanistan Times

AT News

KABUL: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Afghanistan warns that poverty would likely jump up to 70 percent in 2021 in Afghanistan and the number of needy people would reach to 18 million.

In a new report on Afghan situation, the UN body said Wednesday that if peace process succeeds, the GDP would increase by seven per cent within four years. It added that the government’s income would go up and development programs would be empowered.

The UN suggested better governance and fight against corruption to reach these goals.

Marketing has been called important in the report for improving of people’s economic condition that says if peace was not prevailed economy rate would decrease considering speedy population growth.

The report predicts that Afghanistan could only get the pre-Corona position within three years, saying that the rate of GDP in 2024 would be 10 per cent less than it was in 2019.

The government had earlier said that the rate of economic growth was minus five per cent in 2020.

The UN report explains a bumpy road toward Afghanistan, saying that peace in the country would be possible, but conflicts would not end.

 UN warns of 70pc increase in Afghan poverty
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