US Allies Announce Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal

U.S. allies have announced they will begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan following Washington’s confirmation that it intends to withdraw all its armed forces by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, which triggered the U.S.-led invasion.U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kabul Thursday for talks with the Afghan government following the announcement. “We’ve achieved the objective we set out nearly 20 years ago. We never intended to have a permanent military presence here,” Blinken told reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul.“The threat from al-Qaida in Afghanistan is significantly degraded. Osama bin Laden has been brought to justice. After years of saying that we would leave militarily at some point, that time has come. But even when our troops come home, our partnership with Afghanistan will continue,” Blinken said.Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, center right, walks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at the Sapidar Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 15, 2021.Britain, which has 750 troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO mission to train Afghan forces, confirmed it would begin withdrawing from the country next month.Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement Thursday, “The people of Afghanistan deserve a peaceful and stable future. As we draw down, the security of our people currently serving in Afghanistan remains our priority and we have been clear that attacks on Allied troops will be met with a forceful response. The British public and our Armed Forces community, both serving and veterans, will have lasting memories of our time in Afghanistan. Most importantly we must remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, who will never be forgotten.”Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
FILE – Relatives of three Czech soldiers, who were killed by a suicide bomber in eastern Afghanistan, mourn at the Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague, Czech Republic, Aug. 8, 2018.Among Afghans, the withdrawal of foreign troops provokes mixed feelings. “What we saw during the Taliban, it doesn’t even exist in my memory anymore. I don’t want to think about it because our country is moving toward development, it is moving toward peace,” said Mohammad Karim, a kite maker from Kabul.Fellow Kabul resident Sayed Ahad Azizi also hopes for more stability. “Peace is the only thing that all people want but if foreign troops stay here, the realization of peace in Afghanistan will be impossible,” he said.The Afghan withdrawal is a watershed moment for Afghanistan – and for the West, said Norman. “The initial mission was simply to rout out al-Qaida which have had a haven in Afghanistan under the Taliban. And that mission kind of changed and grew over time to be one of deposing the Taliban, trying to help Afghanistan transition to a more equal democracy et cetera. And I think Western powers, and the U.S. in particular, is seeing the limits of that kind of engagement.”The U.S. and its allies will reflect on what has been achieved in two decades of conflict. For Afghanistan, the fight for democracy and freedom is far from over. 

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