President Biden on Wednesday announced that the U.S. will withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 — pushing back a May deadline set by the Trump administration.
The U.S. intervened in the country following the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The deadline would be 20 years after those attacks, launched by Al Qaeda based in Afghanistan, on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
“I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats,” Biden said. “I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”
He said he had consulted with experts, Congress and allies on the world stage.
“I’ve concluded it is time to end America’s longest war. It is time for American troops to come home,” he said.
He said it would be done “responsibly” and safely.”
There are currently 2,500 troops in the Middle East country. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. agreed to a deal with the Taliban that sees all troops withdrawn by May, in return for peace talks and a cessation of attacks from the extremist Islamic movement. But the Wednesday announcement means the deadline is being pushed back yet again.
He said the reasons for remaining in Afghanistan have “become increasingly unclear,” with the terror threat spreading to other countries in Africa and Asia.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., slammed the move, saying that “precipitously withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan is a grave mistake.”
“It is retreat in the face of an enemy that has not yet been vanquished and an abdication of American leadership,” McConnell said.
“Leaders in both parties, including me, offered criticism when the prior administration floated the concept of a reckless withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan,” McConnell said.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., also attacked Biden’s plans, although other Democrats praised the timeline.
“I’m very disappointed in the president’s decision to set a September deadline to walk away from Afghanistan. Although this decision was made in coordination with our allies, the U.S. has sacrificed too much to bring stability to Afghanistan to leave without verifiable assurances of a secure future,” Shaheen said in a statement.
This is a breaking news story, check back for updates.