Biden announces plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan beginning May 1, says it’s time to come home

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. delivered remarks Wednesday, announcing a plan for the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan starting on May 1.

The President asserted that all troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11, the twentieth anniversary of the heinous 2001 terrorist attacks that sparked the U.S. war on terror.

“I have concluded that it is time to end America’s longest war. It’s time for American troops to come home,” said President Biden Wednesday.

“We delivered justice to Bin Laden a decade ago and we’ve stayed in Afghanistan for a decade since. Since then, our reasons for remaining in Afghanistan are becoming increasingly unclear,” said Mr. Biden, the fourth commander-in-chief during the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan.

According to the Washington Post, there are currently about 2,500 American troops in Afghanistan in addition to several hundred special operation forces that are not included in this estimate.

A complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan would signal an end to the longest war in United States history, totaling two decades of involvement.

Referring to the tactical process of withdrawing troops, President Bidens said, “We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit. We will do it responsibly, deliberately, and safely.”

An agreement made between the United States and the Taliban under the Trump Administration set a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. However, President Biden asserted Wednesday that the United States will begin its final withdrawal on that date.

Despite withdrawing armed forces from the country, Biden asserted that the United States “will not take our eye off the terrorist threat. We will reorganize our counterterrorism capabilities and the substantial assets in the region to prevent the reemergence of terrorists with a threat to our homeland from over the horizon.”

The President continued, “While we will not stay involved in Afghanistan militarily, our diplomatic and humanitarian work will continue. We will continue to support the government of Afghanistan.”

“The President has judged that a conditions-based approach, which is then the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever. And so he has reached the conclusion that the United States will complete its drawdown, will remove its forces from Afghanistan before September 11,” a senior administrative official said of the decision.

Stephen Miles, executive director of nonprofit Win Without War, said Tuesday, “President Biden is doing the right thing and taking a big step towards ending our nation’s endless wars.”

Miles asserted that the war in Afghanistan has been “endless, fruitless, and destructive”, saying that it is time to “end the era of endless war for good.”

The decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan does not come without criticism and controversy, as some feel that it is premature and potentially harmful.

The U.S. intelligence community’s annual assessment released Tuesday said that peace between the Taliban and the Afghan government remains unlikely in the near future, saying “The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan Government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support.”

President Biden on Wednesday also spoke with President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, and both discussed “their continued commitment to a strong bilateral partnership following the departure of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and affirmed shared respect and gratitude for the sacrifices made by American forces, alongside NATO allies and operational partners, as well as by the Afghan people and Afghan service members over the past two decades,” the White House said. 

It added that President Biden emphasized that the United States will continue to support the Afghan people, including through continued development, humanitarian, and security assistance. 

“President Biden and President Ghani reaffirmed their shared conviction that every effort should be made to achieve a political settlement so that the Afghan people can live in peace,” said the readout of their conversation.

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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