Joe Biden sparks EU chaos: Member states split as critics fume at bombshell military move
Joe Biden putting 'cards in the hands of the Taliban' claims Volker
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Mr Biden said on Wednesday US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan from May 1, ending America’s longest war. He rejected calls for them to stay to ensure a peaceful resolution to the nation’s grinding internal conflict.
Foreign troops under NATO command will also withdraw from Afghanistan in coordination with the US pull-out, NATO allies agreed. The withdrawal of foreign troops will be completed by September 11.
Around 7,000 non-US forces from NATO countries as well as from Australia, New Zealand and Georgia outnumber the 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, but they still rely on American air support, planning and leadership.
The decision has officially been supported by EU members states involved but it did not come without reservations.
After speaking to President Biden on Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed “the importance of close coordination and cooperation, as well as continued political commitment to the country”.
But Italy’s former commander in Afghanistan, General Giorgio Battisti, blasted the decision, claiming Afghan security forces are not ready to provide stability on their own.
He said the move will be seen as an “abandonment” of the Afghan people, especially women and children.
No country will be able to remain on the territory without the US troops, lamented General Battisti, adding the decision should have been taken by NATO countries jointly.
Outside the EU, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “While our military contribution will reduce, we will continue to support the stability of Afghanistan through our bilateral partnership and in concert with our other nations.”
President Biden acknowledged US objectives in Afghanistan had become “increasingly unclear” over the past decade and set a deadline for withdrawing all U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan by September 11, exactly 20 years after al Qaeda’s attacks on the United States triggered the war.
But by pulling out without a clear victory over the Taliban and other radicals in Afghanistan, the United States opens itself to criticism that a withdrawal represents a de facto admission of failure for American military strategy.
He said: “It was never meant to be a multi-generational undertaking.
“We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives.”
He said al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by American forces in 2011 and the organisation has been “degraded” in Afghanistan.
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He continued: “And it’s time to end the forever war.”
The war has cost the lives of 2,448 American service members and cost an estimated $2 trillion. US troop numbers in Afghanistan peaked at more than 100,000 in 2011.
In withdrawing, President Biden has risks the return of al Qaeda or a succesful Taliban insurgency that topples the US-backed government in Kabul.
He said: “I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats.
“I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.”
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani wrote on Twitter and said he spoke with Biden and respected the US decision.
Mr Ghani added: “We will work with our US partners to ensure a smooth transition” and “we will continue to work with our US/NATO partners in the ongoing peace efforts.”
A peace summit on Afghanistan is planned from April 24 in Istanbul that would include the United Nations and more than 20 countries.
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