Blinken on Afghanistan: 'Time to Bring Our Forces Home'
Referring to Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday, said: “We have achieved the goals that we set out to achieve. And now, it is time to bring our forces home.”
This announcement comes after reports that Biden will announce a complete US withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11.
“This is an important moment for our alliance. Almost 20 years ago, after the United States was attacked on 9/11, together, we went into Afghanistan to deal with those who attacked us, and to make sure that Afghanistan would not again become a haven for terrorists who might attack any of us,” Blinken said in a televised statement at NATO headquarters.
Blinken also mentioned that President Joe Biden will speak to this in a few hours in the United States.
“I'm here to work closely with our allies, with the secretary general, on the principle that we've established from the start. In together, adapt together, and out together,” he said.
“We will work very closely together, in the weeks and months ahead, on a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan,” he said.
“But even as we do that, our commitment to Afghanistan, to its future, will remain. And we'll talk about that today as well. As Jens (NATO Secretary General) has said,” he added.
Reuters reported that the NATO foreign and defense ministers will discuss their plans later on Wednesday via video conference.
A senior NATO diplomat told Reuters that no ally was expected to oppose US President Joe Biden’s formal announcement, which reportedly will occur later on Wednesday, for a complete US withdrawal of troops by Sept. 11.
AFP in a tweet said that the US, Britain, France and Germany plan to hold talks on Afghanistan, citing sources in Berlin.
US intelligence agencies report on Afghanistan
In a report on global threats issued Tuesday, US intelligence agencies are not optimistic about the prospects for a peaceful Afghanistan with or without the presence of US troops in the country.
The report warned that the prospects for a peace deal between the Afghan government "will remain low" for the coming year.
They further warned that the Taliban believes it can successfully use force to shape the political reality on the ground.
"Kabul continues to face setbacks on the battlefield, and the Taliban is confident it can achieve military victory," according to the report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).
Afghan security forces "remain tied down in defensive missions and have struggled to hold recaptured territory or reestablish a presence in areas abandoned in 2020," the report said.
"The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield," it added, cautioning that "the Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support."
In the meantime, Britain will withdraw nearly all its troops from Afghanistan following the US plan to withdraw its troops by Sept. 11, 2021, The Times reported on Tuesday.
Britain has drawn up plans to hand over control of the academy in Kabul where troops help to train Afghan soldiers to the government, the newspaper said.
There are about 750 British soldiers in Afghanistan who would struggle without US support because of the reliance on US bases and infrastructure, according to the Times.
Germany's defense minister has announced that the Bundeswehr will withdraw from Afghanistan in September, DW reported.
Germany will match US plans for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in an interview on Wednesday.
"We have always said we are going in together, and we are going out together," Kramp-Karrenbauer told German public broadcaster ARD. "I stand for an orderly withdrawal, and I expect us to decide this today (at NATO)."