WASHINGTON: US troops will pack up fully from Afghanistan by September 11, 20 years after the world’s biggest terrorist attack on 9/11. President Biden will make the announcement on Wednesday, bringing an end to the longest war the U.S was drawn into, surpassing the 19 years it was bogged down in Vietnam.
The new timeline, which will go beyond the May 1 exit deadline that the Trump administration negotiated last year with the Taliban, will still leave the violence-wracked country open to depredations from Pakistan, which has long used it for “strategic depth” in its unending confrontation with India.
The withdrawal is effectively a triumph for the Pakistani military, which has long nurtured Taliban and allied proxies and terrorists in its irregular warfare aimed at the west and India.
There are an estimated 2500-3500 regular US troops in Afghanistan, with an unknown number of special forces and covert operatives. There are also thousands of allied Nato troops, and Washington’s European allies are expected to take the cue and also pack up.
US officials say the country now faces greater threats from other regions and insist that the exit does not mean Washington will abandon Afghanistan.
“Afghanistan just does not rise to the level of those other threats at this point. That does not mean we’re turning away from Afghanistan. We are going to remain committed to the government, remain committed diplomatically. But in terms of where we will be investing force posture, our blood and treasure, we believe that other priorities merit that investment,” an unnamed official told the Washington Post, which first broke the story.
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