The US and its allies are planning to keep their troops in Afghanistan beyond the deadline envisaged by the deal with the Taliban, Reuters reported on January 31 citing senior officials from the NATO.
Under the deal, which was signed by the US and the Taliban in Doha last February, foreign troops should withdraw from Afghanistan by May.
A NATO official told Reuters that there will be no full withdrawal by the US and allies from Afghanistan by April-end. The official said that the Taliban have not met the conditions set in the February agreement.
“With the new US administration, there will be tweaks in the policy, the sense of hasty withdrawal which was prevalent will be addressed and we could see a much more calculated exit strategy,” the official said.
According to another official, about 10,000 foreign troops, including Americans, are in Afghanistan. Those numbers are expected to stay roughly the same until post May. From there on the plan is not clear yet.
“No NATO ally wants to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary, but we have been clear that our presence remains conditions-based,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu told Reuters. “Allies continue to assess the overall situation and to consult on the way forward.”
Two days ago, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the US is taking a “hard look” at how the Taliban is complying with the February agreement.
“What we’re doing right now, is taking a hard look at the extent to which the Taliban are in fact complying with those three conditions, and in that context, we make decisions about our force posture and our diplomatic strategy going forward,” Sullivan said.
Despite the ongoing peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, the situation in the country remains far from being stable.
- On January 30, ISIS claimed responsibility for the bomb attack in Kabul.
- On January 31, the deputy leader of the Taliban Mullah Baradar discussed Afghanistan’s situation, the US-Taliban deal and peace talks with Iranian FM Zarif, according to the Taliban spokesman.
- On January 31, at least two civilians were killed and 14 others were wounded in a Taliban mortar attack in Almar district.
- On January 30, 36 Taliban members were killed and 5 others were wounded in Arghandab district as a result of actions of Afghan forces.
- On January 30, 34 Taliban members including the head of the military commission for Nawa district of Helmand and two other commanders were killed by government forces.
The Biden administration indicates that it may withdraw from the deal with the Taliban soon. This will likely lead a new round of military escalation in Afghanistan. At least, the Taliban could resume attacks on American troops.
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