Less than a day after President Joe Biden’s speech on the final withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in Kabul on an unannounced visit. During meetings with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Blinken stated that the United States did not plan to stay in the country for long.
“We have achieved the goal that we set almost 20 years ago. We never intended to have a permanent military presence here. The threat from al-Qaeda in Afghanistan has diminished significantly. Osama bin Laden was punished. After years of talking about our military leaving at some point, this time has come. But even when our troops return home, our partnership with Afghanistan will continue, ”summed up the head of the US State Department.
And nevertheless, the military campaign in Afghanistan turned out to be the longest in the history of the United States – almost 20 years. At the same time, the head of the State Department stressed that the United States will continue to support the Afghan security forces, as well as provide humanitarian assistance to government agencies and civil society, which ensures the observance of women’s rights and freedoms. The Afghan authorities said they respect the decision of the United States and NATO countries.
“The Afghan government respects the decision of the United States to withdraw its troops from the country, and the presidents of both countries will discuss this issue. The Afghan security and defense forces have bravely defended Afghanistan and will continue to do so, ”said Latif Mahmoud, spokesman for the Afghan president.
On Wednesday, the head of the White House confirmed the determination of his administration to completely withdraw from Afghanistan the American contingent, which now numbers about 2,500 people. The reduction in the number of US troops will begin on May 1 and end by September 11 this year.
“US troops, as well as those deployed by our NATO allies and operational partners, will be withdrawn from Afghanistan before we celebrate the 20th anniversary of this heinous 9/11 attack. But we do not lose sight of the terrorist threat, we are reorganizing our counter-terrorism capabilities and important resources in the region to prevent the re-emergence of terrorists and threats to our homeland from abroad. The Taliban are responsible for their commitment not to allow terrorists to threaten the United States or its allies from Afghan territory, ”US President Joe Biden announced during his message to the country.
NATO troops will leave Afghanistan together with the American contingent. The alliance will begin the withdrawal of coalition forces from May 1. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated this yesterday: “Currently, we have about 10,000 servicemen in Afghanistan. Most of the US non-NATO allies and partner countries. In recent weeks and months, we have consulted intensively about our presence in Afghanistan. In light of the US decision to withdraw [своих военных] NATO foreign and defense ministers discussed the way forward today. I decided that from May 1 we will begin the withdrawal of the NATO contingent. ”
Meanwhile, anxiety is growing in Afghan society amid the planned withdrawal of coalition forces from the country, where attacks on civilians continue. Noah Coburn, a professor at Bennington College in Vermont, argues that Joe Biden’s decision will especially affect Afghan families who have worked with the military and diplomatic departments of the United States and other Western countries.
“For any Afghan who has supported the American presence in Afghanistan, there is a phase of uncertainty and danger,” said Noah Coburn. “This applies not only to translators, but also to those who have worked in a wide variety of positions for the United States government or the military.”
The White House administration should focus its policy in Afghanistan on financial assistance to all institutions of government, society and the army after foreign military personnel leave bases in the country, according to senior adviser at the United States Institute for Peace, Ambassador Richard Olson, who headed the department from 2011 to 2012. development and economy at the US Embassy in Kabul.
“I think that it is quite possible that a period of aggravation of the conflict may begin in Afghanistan. I hope and believe that the policy of the United States will be to support the Afghan government, mainly financially. And thus support civil society through structures such as the World Bank and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust. Most importantly, continue to provide assistance to the Afghan National Army, ”said Ambassador Richard Olson.
In the first quarter of this year, 573 civilians were killed and 1,210 injured, according to a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The UN claims that the government army is responsible for 17% of the total deaths and injuries, while the Taliban account for over 40%. The head of Afghanistan’s Supreme Peace Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, after a meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, said that confrontation by the Taliban or other extremist groups would not solve the problems in the country, but would rather aggravate them.
“If someone thinks that with the withdrawal of foreign forces the problem will be resolved through a conflict, this will lead to the continuation of clashes. Nobody wants that, so neither side should misinterpret the presence or absence of foreign troops. The solution is to move forward towards peace, peace that is acceptable to all the people of Afghanistan, ”Abdullah Abdullah stressed.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham has once again criticized Biden’s decision to withdraw US forces. At the same time, Graham said that the American contingent in Afghanistan is an outpost that holds back the activities of terrorist groups.
“The result of today’s decision by President Biden is the cancellation of a kind of insurance policy that, in my opinion, would have prevented a repeat of 9/11. Because I believe with all my heart and soul, after 50 trips to the region, that the several thousand American soldiers watching the region are hindering the reorganization of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State that could strike us. Those eyes and ears won’t be there. ”
However, lawmakers from both parties agree that it is time to end the 20-year war in Afghanistan, which killed thousands of coalition soldiers and more than 43,000 civilians, while data on militant losses vary. This war cost American taxpayers an estimated $ 2 trillion.