US President Joe Biden will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan over the coming months, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing “people familiar with the plans”.
The newspaper said the military exit would be completed by the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks that first drew the United States into its longest war.
The decision, which Biden is expected to announce later today, will keep thousands of U.S. forces in the country beyond the May 1 exit deadline that the Trump administration negotiated last year with the Taliban, the Post quoted “one person familiar with the matter” as saying without identifying him.
“While the Taliban has vowed to renew attacks on U.S. and NATO personnel if foreign troops are not out by the deadline, it is not clear if the militants will follow through with those threats given Biden’s plan for a phased withdrawal between now and September,” the report said.
Officially, there are 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, although the number fluctuates and is currently about 1,000 or more than that. There are also up to an additional 7,000 foreign forces in the coalition there, the majority of them NATO troops.
According to the Post, Biden’s decision comes after an administration review of U.S. options in Afghanistan, where peace talks have failed to advance as hoped and the Taliban remains a potent force despite two decades of effort by the United States to defeat the militants and establish stable, democratic governance.
The war has cost trillions of dollars in addition to the lives of more than 2,000 U.S. service members and at least 100,000 Afghan civilians.
“This is the immediate, practical reality that our policy review discovered,” the person familiar with the deliberations was quoted as saying.
“If we break the May 1st deadline negotiated by the previous administration with no clear plan to exit, we will be back at war with the Taliban, and that was not something President Biden believed was in the national interest.
“We’re going to zero troops by September,” the person added.