Biden wants US troops to withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11th

conflicts Biden wants US troops to withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11th

US troops in Afghanistan

Armed US soldiers on a surprise visit from US ex-President Donald Trump to Bagram Air Field. According to government circles, US President Biden plans to withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11th. Photo: Alex Brandon / AP / dpa

© dpa-infocom GmbH

The decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan has so far been one of the most delicate for US President Biden. A date has now been set for the withdrawal. The date is highly symbolic.

According to government sources, US President Joe Biden wants to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by September 11th - the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

A senior US government official said Tuesday that the orderly withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan should begin before May 1 and be completed by September 11 at the latest. Under Biden's predecessor Donald Trump, the US government had agreed with the Taliban to withdraw by May 1.

The US government representative said the withdrawal would be coordinated with NATO partners. They went to Afghanistan together and “we are ready to go away together”. The withdrawal was not tied to conditions because, based on the experience of recent years, such an approach would lead to “staying in Afghanistan forever”. The German government recently advocated making the end of the NATO operation in Afghanistan dependent on the success of the peace negotiations between the militant Islamist Taliban and the government in Kabul.

The US government official emphasized that September 11th was the latest date to complete the withdrawal - but the target could also be achieved well in advance. After that, only soldiers were to remain in the country to protect US diplomats in Afghanistan.

The insurgents had recently threatened new violence against NATO troops if the deadline of May 1 was not met. The US government official warned the Taliban of attacks on foreign troops during the withdrawal. In such a case, the US would strike back hard, he threatened. With a view to women's rights in Afghanistan, he added that the US would do all it can to protect them with all diplomatic, humanitarian and economic means.

According to official information, there are currently around 2500 US soldiers in Afghanistan. At its peak ten years ago it was around 100.000 American soldiers. Most recently, including the US troops, a total of around 10.000 soldiers from NATO countries and partner nations were in Afghanistan to support the democratically elected government by training and advising security forces. Among them are around 1000 German soldiers. The Bundeswehr has been in Afghanistan for around 19 years.

The attacks of September 11, 2001, for which the terrorist network Al-Qaeda was blamed, triggered the entry of US-led troops into Afghanistan the following month. The international military operation led to the overthrow of the Taliban regime, which had refused to extradite Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

The Afghanistan decision is one of the most delicate that Biden had to make in his young tenure. Both options - withdrawing or staying - are considered risky. A group of experts appointed by the US Congress recommended in a report in February that the US government should remain in the Doha Agreement, but not withdraw its troops on May 1, but only when the Taliban have fulfilled their obligations.

Remaining in Afghanistan beyond May 1 harbors the risk that Western troops will again be the target of violence by the Taliban. Because of this scenario, Federal Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has already ordered, in consultation with the military leaders, to strengthen the protective measures for the Bundeswehr soldiers.

In the event of a withdrawal on May 1, the experts saw, among other things, the risk of the Taliban seizing power, another civil war, a terrorist threat to the USA and another refugee crisis with repercussions on the EU.