According to a report from The Washington Post, President Biden will keep US forces in Afghanistan beyond the May 1st deadline that was set by the US-Taliban peace deal. Sources told the Post that Biden plans to complete the withdrawal by September 11th. The White House confirmed the report in comments to reporters by an unnamed administration official.
The Taliban has vowed to renew attacks on US and NATO forces if foreign troops remain in the country after May 1st, and it’s not clear if the Taliban agreed to the deadline extension. Since the US-Taliban deal was signed in February 2020, no US soldiers died in combat in Afghanistan.
A “person familiar with the deliberations” told the Post that Biden does not want to restart fighting with the Taliban. “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,” the person said, adding, “We’re going to zero troops by September.”
There are officially 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, although some reports say the number is closer to 3,500. On top of the US presence, there are 7,000 other coalition troops in the country, mostly NATO forces.
The warring sides in Afghanistan have been reviewing new peace proposals that were put forward to jump-start negotiations as the deadline loomed. Since the US-backed Afghan government is entirely reliant on foreign aid, its collapse is expected after the US pulls out, which is used by the hawks as a justification for prolonging the war, but it serves as an example of what a failure the US intervention in Afghanistan has been.
According to the Post, the Biden administration will continue to keep providing aid to the Afghan government and its military, but it’s not clear how far that assistance will go.