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Biden announces U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by Sept. 11

 
00:53

U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday plans to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by September 11.

"It is time to end America's longest war," Biden said in a nationally televised address, but he emphasized that the U.S. will "not conduct a hasty rush to the exit."

The move coincides with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in the U.S., after which the U.S. began counter-terrorism onslaughts in Afghanistan, leading to roughly 2500 soldiers and tens of thousands of Afghan civilian deaths.

Time to end

In the address, Biden told Americans that it was time to accept the reality that the horrific attack happened 20 years ago.

"it cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021," he said.

Biden said it's time to jump out of the cycle of extending or expanding military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create ideal conditions for withdrawal.

"I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats," he said. "I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth," said Biden.

A photo of a damaged minibus after a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 15, 2021. /Reuters

Over the past 20 years, about 800,000 U.S. troops have been deployed to Afghanistan. The cost of the war and related reconstruction expenses amounted to about $2 trillion.

According to Biden, the U.S. had accomplished its limited original mission of crushing the international jihadist groups behind the 9/11 attacks and that with every passing year the rationale for staying was more "unclear."

The White House said the U.S. will continue to provide development, humanitarian and security assistance to the Afghan people, continue to support peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and continue to help train Afghan military. 

Afghanistan respects decision

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday said he respects the U.S. decision after speaking with Biden on telephone regarding the U.S. withdrawal.

"I had a call with President Biden in which we discussed the U.S. decision to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan by early September. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan respects the U.S. decision and we will work with our U.S. partners to ensure a smooth transition," Ghani said on Twitter.

"Afghanistan's proud security and defense forces are fully capable of defending its people and country, which they have been doing all along, and for which the Afghan nation will forever remain grateful."

An armored vehicle patrols near the side of an incident where two U.S. soldiers were killed a day before, Sherzad district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, February 9, 2020. /Reuters

Mixed reactions

Former U.S. President Barack Obama supported Biden's decision, saying in a statement, "It is time to recognize that we have accomplished all that we can militarily, and that it's time to bring our remaining troops home."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also welcomed the decision and called for coordination of the pullout with NATO allies.

"Together, we have achieved the goals that we set out to achieve and now it is time to bring our forces home," Blinken said in Brussels on Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attend a news conference at NATO's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 14, 2021. /Reuters

But Biden's decision received criticism mostly from Republicans.

"We're to help our adversaries ring in the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by gift wrapping the country, and handing it right back to them," senior Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said.

"This is a reckless and dangerous decision," said Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. "Arbitrary deadlines would likely put our troops in danger, jeopardize all the progress we've made, and lead to civil war in Afghanistan – and create a breeding ground for international terrorists."

The U.S. intelligence officials believe that Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups will not pose any immediate threat to U.S. security, and if necessary, the U.S. and its allies can quickly rebuild its anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan to respond to any future threats.

The war started in 2001 when former President George W. Bush ordered American forces to invade Afghanistan to defeat Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda after the September 11 attacks.


 
00:53

U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday plans to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by September 11.

"It is time to end America's longest war," Biden said in a nationally televised address, but he emphasized that the U.S. will "not conduct a hasty rush to the exit."

The move coincides with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in the U.S., after which the U.S. began counter-terrorism onslaughts in Afghanistan, leading to roughly 2500 soldiers and tens of thousands of Afghan civilian deaths.

Time to end

In the address, Biden told Americans that it was time to accept the reality that the horrific attack happened 20 years ago.

"it cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021," he said.

Biden said it's time to jump out of the cycle of extending or expanding military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create ideal conditions for withdrawal.

"I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats," he said. "I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth," said Biden.

A photo of a damaged minibus after a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 15, 2021. /Reuters

Over the past 20 years, about 800,000 U.S. troops have been deployed to Afghanistan. The cost of the war and related reconstruction expenses amounted to about $2 trillion.

According to Biden, the U.S. had accomplished its limited original mission of crushing the international jihadist groups behind the 9/11 attacks and that with every passing year the rationale for staying was more "unclear."

The White House said the U.S. will continue to provide development, humanitarian and security assistance to the Afghan people, continue to support peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and continue to help train Afghan military. 

Afghanistan respects decision

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday said he respects the U.S. decision after speaking with Biden on telephone regarding the U.S. withdrawal.

"I had a call with President Biden in which we discussed the U.S. decision to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan by early September. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan respects the U.S. decision and we will work with our U.S. partners to ensure a smooth transition," Ghani said on Twitter.

"Afghanistan's proud security and defense forces are fully capable of defending its people and country, which they have been doing all along, and for which the Afghan nation will forever remain grateful."

An armored vehicle patrols near the side of an incident where two U.S. soldiers were killed a day before, Sherzad district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, February 9, 2020. /Reuters

Mixed reactions

Former U.S. President Barack Obama supported Biden's decision, saying in a statement, "It is time to recognize that we have accomplished all that we can militarily, and that it's time to bring our remaining troops home."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also welcomed the decision and called for coordination of the pullout with NATO allies.

"Together, we have achieved the goals that we set out to achieve and now it is time to bring our forces home," Blinken said in Brussels on Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attend a news conference at NATO's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 14, 2021. /Reuters

But Biden's decision received criticism mostly from Republicans.

"We're to help our adversaries ring in the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by gift wrapping the country, and handing it right back to them," senior Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said.

"This is a reckless and dangerous decision," said Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. "Arbitrary deadlines would likely put our troops in danger, jeopardize all the progress we've made, and lead to civil war in Afghanistan – and create a breeding ground for international terrorists."

The U.S. intelligence officials believe that Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups will not pose any immediate threat to U.S. security, and if necessary, the U.S. and its allies can quickly rebuild its anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan to respond to any future threats.

The war started in 2001 when former President George W. Bush ordered American forces to invade Afghanistan to defeat Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda after the September 11 attacks.