The United States should postpone the planned withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan by May 1 and ensure that the reduction in the number of American contingents is based on progress in the peace negotiations, as well as on the actions of the Taliban themselves. This is stated in a bipartisan report that the Afghanistan Study Group presented to Congress on Wednesday.
The report says Washington should not refuse to participate in the Afghan peace process. However, the full withdrawal of all military personnel cannot be completed by May 1, the deadline set in the 2020 agreement between the US and the Taliban. The withdrawal of all US military personnel could lead to civil war, destabilization of the region and a resurgence of the threat from al-Qaeda, the report says.
The United States “must not … just give victory to the Taliban,” said a report released by a group investigating the situation in Afghanistan. Opponents of the Trump administration said the same, who argued that the US negotiators had yielded too much to the Taliban in an effort to end the longest-running war ever involving American troops.
The composition of the research group was approved by Congress. The report was spearheaded by Marine General Joseph Dunford, former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and ex-GOP Senator Kelly Ayotte.
Dunford told reporters that the report was passed on to aides to President Joe Biden, including Zalmay Khalilzad, a peace negotiator who remained in the White House after the Trump administration left. The United States must rethink its policy to ensure that peace talks in Qatar between the Taliban and Afghan officials will definitely bring an end to the war, which is now in its second decade.
“The overall goal of peace will be achieved through negotiations that are in US interests, which will need to start by postponing the deadline for withdrawal in May,” the report said.
The report says the extension of the deadline will allow the Biden administration to rethink US policy, including linking further troop cuts to the Taliban: Kabul.
The Taliban claims that al-Qaeda fighters are no longer in Afghanistan. At the same time, the group threatens to renew attacks on foreign troops if American soldiers remain in the country after May 1.
The postponement will also give Washington time to restructure the US peacekeeping process in Afghanistan in order to encourage official Kabul to take a “constructive approach to peace and the protection of the rights of women and minorities.”
Immediately after the release of the report, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that “there have been no decisions at this time regarding our power positions (in Afghanistan),” Price told reporters, adding that the Biden administration is now also studying the text of the pact on the withdrawal of foreign troops, which was concluded between the Trump administration and the Taliban.
Republican Senator Lindsay Graham echoed the findings in the report to Congress, saying they should be a blueprint for achieving “sustainable peace” in Afghanistan.
Graham suggested that the Biden administration agrees with the recommendations made by the Afghanistan Study Group experts.
“I hope we can develop a bipartisan approach to Afghanistan, make sure that our hard-won gains are not wasted, and that we can be responsible for reducing our contingent,” said Graham.