Many of Washington’s NATO and other coalition allies in Afghanistan are quickly leaving the country, and most are expected to be out well before the September 11th withdrawal deadline set by President Biden, Stars and Stripes reported on Friday.
The Netherlands has begun pulling its troops out, and the Dutch Defense Ministry said last week that the withdrawal should be finished by the end of July. Austria, a non-NATO country, is also expected to have its troops out by sometime in July.
Portuguese soldiers who were stationed to protect the Kabul airport are expected to be out by the end of May, although some high-ranking officers will stay a bit longer. Some countries have already left altogether, including New Zealand, Croatia, and Spain.
Germany, whose troop numbers were higher than any other country besides the US, is expected to be one of the last countries to leave. Berlin had roughly 1,000 troops in Afghanistan before the withdrawal started. German officials have said that a July 4th deadline to get out was being considered.
The rapid withdrawals could be an attempt to avoid any renewed attacks from the Taliban. Because President Biden broke the US-Taliban peace deal by pushing back the original May 1st withdrawal deadline, the Taliban has threatened to start attacking foreign troops again, but so far, they have refrained from doing so.
A report from Afghanistan’s Tolo News said that the US was in talks with the Taliban to push up Biden’s September 11th withdrawal deadline to sometime in July. Earlier this week, US Central Command said the withdrawal process was somewhere between 13 and 20 percent complete, which means the US could be on track for a July pullout.
While the US and NATO are removing their troops, the Western powers are looking to maintain influence and plan to continue supporting the Afghan military financially, and the US will likely maintain some sort of covert presence at the very least. NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that the alliance will train Afghan forces outside of Afghanistan, an option that is also being considered by the US.