The U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said on Wednesday that “now” is the time to withdraw troops in Afghanistan, after fulfilling the objective that the country will no longer be a “haven” for terrorist groups that attack Western countries.
The politician made this statement after learning that Washington would begin the process of withdrawing its military from Afghanistan “before May 1” and will leave “zero” troops before the twentieth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, which led the United States to invade Afghanistan, according to a senior U.S. official, who requested anonymity on Tuesday.
U.S. President Joe Biden will officially announce the plan today.
“Nearly 20 years ago, after the United States was attacked on 9/11, together we went to Afghanistan to deal with those who attacked us and to ensure that Afghanistan would not again become a haven for terrorists who might attack any of us, and together we have achieved the goals we set out to achieve,” Blinken said at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Therefore, he added that “now is the time to bring our forces home.”
The U.S. withdrawal will be gradual and unconditional, with the goal of ending the longest war in its history by September.
Joe Biden’s decision postpones the withdrawal date and erases the commitment of his predecessor, Donald Trump, to pull troops out of Afghanistan before next May 1.
NATO currently maintains a 9,592-strong mission in Afghanistan to advise, train and educate local security forces. The United States is contributing 2,500 military personnel and the rest are distributed among NATO members and NATO partners, such as Georgia. Germany has already assured that it will synchronize its withdrawal from the Asian country with that of Washington.
Blinken and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are meeting today at NATO headquarters with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and are participating in a video conference with NATO foreign and defense ministers to discuss the Afghan issue and the Russian military escalation on the Ukrainian border.
The head of U.S. diplomacy recalled before his meeting with Stoltenberg that NATO countries went “together” to Afghanistan, adjusted their presence “together” and will leave “together”.
“We will work very closely together in the months ahead on a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan,” he remarked.
As for the concentration of Russian forces next to the Ukrainian border, Blinken said it was the largest since 2014, when Moscow’s annexation of Crimea took place.
Stoltenberg, for his part, expressed the allies’ concern over Russia’s “massive military buildup” next to Ukraine.
“Russia must stop this military buildup, stop the provocations and de-escalate,” he demanded.
On Afghanistan, he “welcomed” the opportunity to coordinate “closely” and consult with allies on the future presence in that country.