GS Paper - 2 International Relations

President Joe Biden plans to withdraw the remaining 2,500 US troops from Afghanistan by 11 Sept. 2021, 20 years to the day after the al Qaeda attacks that triggered America's longest war. The disclosure of the plan came on the same day that the US intelligence community released a gloomy outlook for Afghanistan, forecasting "low" chances of a peace deal this year and warning that its government would struggle to hold the Taliban insurgency at bay if the US-led coalition withdrew support.

What

  1. Biden's decision would miss a 1 May deadline for withdrawal agreed to with the Taliban by his predecessor Donald Trump.
  2. The insurgents had threatened to resume hostilities against foreign troops if that deadline was missed. But Biden would still be setting a near-term withdrawal date, potentially allaying Taliban concerns.
  3. The US intelligence report, which was sent to Congress, stated: "Kabul continues to face setbacks on the battlefield, and the Taliban is confident it can achieve military victory."
  4. The 1 May deadline had already started to appear less and less likely in recent weeks, given the lack of preparations on the ground to ensure it could be done safely and responsibly.
  5. US officials have also blamed the Taliban for failing to live up to commitments to reduce violence and some have warned about persistent Taliban links to al Qaeda.
  6. It was those ties that triggered US military intervention in 2001 following al Qaeda's 11 Sept. attacks, when hijackers slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington, killing almost 3,000 people.
  7. The Biden administration has said al Qaeda does not pose a threat to the US homeland now.