The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, meets today in Brussels with the 30 Defense Ministers of the member countries of the Atlantic Alliance.
The US plan contemplates starting the withdrawal before May and culminating the operation on September 11, twenty years after the Al Qaeda attacks in the United States.
NATO joins the United States’ plan to gradually withdraw troops from Afghanistan and complete the withdrawal next September, when the twenty-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks , according to the US Secretary of State. , Antony Blinken, who met this afternoon in Brussels through a videoconference with the defense ministers of the 30 countries that are part of the Atlantic Alliance.
A few hours later, the US president, in a public appearance, confirmed the withdrawal plan. “It is time to end America’s longest war. It is time for the troops to return home, ”Biden said from the White House. “I am the fourth American president with a troop presence in Afghanistan. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth ”, he added.
The terrorist attacks of 2001 were the trigger that led the then US president, George W. Bush, to order the invasion of the Central Asian country , where the leader of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, was supposedly taking refuge under the cover of the Taliban.
Since then 3,500 coalition soldiers have lost their lives. Most of them, 2,400, Americans. Currently there are about 3,500 military personnel from the North American country deployed in Afghan territory, of which a thousand are from the special forces.
Biden has indicated that Washington will continue to “support” the Kabul authorities as well as the peace talks that the Afghan Government and the Taliban have under the auspices of the United Nations.
NATO, for its part, has about 10,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan . The highest peak of foreign forces in Afghan territory was reached in 2011, with more than 130,000. Blinken has said from the Belgian capital that it will work together with its allies to carry out a “safe, determined and coordinated withdrawal”.
The first member country of the Atlantic Alliance to respond to Washington’s plan has been Germany, a country that contributes 1,300 soldiers to the NATO mission, known as ‘Resolute Support’, the highest number after the US.
“We have always said it: we go in together and we go out together,” said German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, confirming her country’s commitment to Washington’s plans. The United Kingdom has expressed itself in similar terms. In this case, NATO countries could hardly guarantee the safety of their soldiers without the support of the Pentagon on the ground.
Spain, which sent troops shortly after the outbreak of the conflict, now has a hundred soldiers, whose mission is to assist, train and advise Afghan institutions . According to the website of the Ministry of Defense , during all these years 102 Spanish soldiers have died in “accidents or attacks”.
The US decision has been received as a hostile act by the Taliban, who in February last year agreed with the Government of Kabul and the Administration of former President Donald Trump to leave the troops before May 1.
The insurgents have threatened to resume attacks against foreign forces and break any peace negotiations if the commitment is not fulfilled. Washington, for its part, has warned of any attacks on its soldiers during the withdrawal process,
The war adventure of the United States in the Central Asian country cannot be described as successful, without rather the opposite, some analysts maintain. Not only because of the number of soldiers who have lost their lives, but because of the impotence shown all these years by the largest military machine in the world to subdue the Taliban .
The insurgents have managed to keep government and foreign forces at bay all these years and now sit at the negotiating table in a position of strength.
The announcement of military withdrawal is consistent with a United Nations report in which it denounces that the number of civilians killed or injured as a result of the conflict is “deeply worrying” and has pointed to “extraordinary levels of damage” caused to the population in frame of war .
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) indicates in its report that “the number of civilians killed or injured during the first three months of 2021 is significantly higher than a year ago “, when the country was going through a period of ” reduction of violence “prior to the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban,
During the first quarter of this year , 573 civilians were confirmed dead and 1,210 injured , an increase of 29% compared to the same period of the previous year. The figure includes a 37% increase in cases in which the victims are women and 23% in which the victims are minors.
According to UNAMA, anti-government elements were responsible for 61% of the victims – with 43.5% attributed to the Taliban, while pro-government forces caused 27%, including 17% attributed to the Army. Another 12% has been for “crossfire and others.” Since the conflict broke out, more than 100,000 Afghan civilians have died.