United States President Joe Biden speaks about the situation in Afghanistan in the East Room of the White House in Washington DC on July 8, 2021.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said the US military mission in Afghanistan would end by August 31, and urged the country’s leaders to “come together” to prevent civil war.
“We didn’t go to Afghanistan to build a nation,” Biden said in a statement in the White House on Thursday.
After 20 years of war, the ideal conditions that the United States once hoped for before the withdrawal were never met.
“How many more, how many thousands of America’s daughters and sons are you willing to risk?” Said Biden, who first announced the planned withdrawal of the US armed forces in April. “How long would you let her stay?”
“It is up to the Afghans to decide the future of their country,” said the president.
Biden told reporters he was confident the Afghan military can hold the country ahead of the advancing Taliban, citing the 300,000 Afghan troops the US has trained and equipped over the past two decades.
“They clearly have the ability to keep the government in place, the question is whether they will come together and do it,” he said.
However, many outside observers do not share Biden’s optimism. The US and NATO military withdrawal has raised serious concerns that Afghanistan may fall into further bloodshed. The country’s supreme American general, Scott Miller, has warned that if the Taliban increase their influence, civil war could ensue.
In recent weeks, the Taliban have made breathtaking forays into the battlefield, capturing stocks of US military-provided weapons and vehicles from Afghan forces that have either fled or surrendered.
In a speech at the White House, Biden insisted that America will not abandon its commitment to creating a stable and secure Afghanistan and referred to the humanitarian and security assistance the US administration will continue to provide.
He also firmly opposed that the United States would be responsible for the deaths of Afghans killed in the civil war.
“No, no, no, no,” he said, “it is up to the people of Afghanistan to decide which government they want.”
And while Biden rejected the idea that a Taliban takeover was inevitable, he conceded that Afghanistan is unlikely to be ruled by a central government in the near future.
This coincides with the views of high-ranking US officials who believe that a power-sharing agreement between the Taliban and the central government in Kabul is likely the best outcome that could come in the coming months.
For a long time, Biden has made no secret of the fact that he sees no military solution to the massive challenges facing Afghanistan.
Marked by centuries of foreign invasions and ravaged by ethnic divisions, Afghan civilians still elude things like basic security, human rights and good governance to this day.
However, Biden believes that the original US mission in Afghanistan – to prevent terrorists from using the country as a base for attacks on the United States – has been fulfilled.
“With the threat of terrorism now raging in many places, it makes little sense to me and our leaders to keep thousands of troops on the ground in just one country, which costs billions each year,” Biden said on Nov.
That same month, the White House confirmed that US forces had initiated the Herculean withdrawal process from Afghanistan.
The removal of approximately 3,000 US soldiers coincides with the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks that spurred America’s entry into protracted wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Last week, the US military quietly left Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, a historic milestone after Biden’s order to withdraw US forces from the country.
Two US officials told NBC News on condition of anonymity that the decision had not yet been officially announced that the US had turned the air base over to the Afghan National Security and Defense Force.
In 2012, at its peak, Bagram looked through more than 100,000 U.S. soldiers. It was the largest US military facility in Afghanistan.
An Afghan National Army soldier guards the gate of the U.S. Bagram Air Force Base on the day the last American troops evacuated it, Parwan province, Afghanistan, July 2, 2021.
Facebook Facebook logo Sign up on Facebook to connect with Mohammad Ismail Reuters
The Afghan district administrator of Bagram told The Associated Press that the US exit was overnight and without consultation with local officials. As a result, dozens of looters stormed through the unprotected gates.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid described the US withdrawal from Bagram as “a positive step” and told NBC News that the Taliban had no plans “for the time being” to occupy the sprawling air force base, which is about 60 kilometers north of Kabul.
“We are all watching the security situation with concern,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told Fox News on Wednesday.
“That is why we in this administration put so much diplomatic energy into trying to find a diplomatic solution and develop a relationship with the Afghan armed forces that will enable them to remain competent and capable in the field,” added Kirby.
Still, it had become clear to US defense officials and diplomats in recent years that the main argument for keeping troops in Afghanistan – that Afghanistan’s central government needs US troops on the ground to secure and maintain a diplomatic truce with the Taliban – was not a viable one long-term plan was.
“We’ve given that argument a decade,” Biden said in April. “It has never been effective – not when we had 98,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and not when we only had a few thousand.”
“Instead of going back to war with the Taliban, we need to focus on the challenges that lie ahead,” said Biden. “We need to track and disrupt terrorist networks and operations that have spread far beyond Afghanistan since 9/11.”
On Tuesday, the Pentagon said it had completed more than 90% of the entire withdrawal process from Afghanistan.
The update from US Central Command, which oversees America’s military presence from northeast Africa to South Asia, comes roughly two months ahead of the deadline Biden set earlier this year.
The flight crew assigned to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, carry their equipment into a C-17 Globemaster III assigned to Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina on April 27, 2021.
Staff Sgt. Kylee Gardner | U.S. Air Force photo
American forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001 after the group sheltered Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders who carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Two years later, US troops invaded Iraq to defeat then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. to eliminate .
Twenty years later, America’s longest war has killed around 2,300 US soldiers and wounded thousands more. It is estimated that more than 100,000 Afghans have been killed or wounded since the conflict began.