After 20 years, American and Allied troops are leaving Afghanistan.
It’s official: the United States and their NATO allies will be withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan in a matter of months. The pull-out takes place in the year when the Western world commemorates 2 decades since the terror attacks on the US. 9/11 triggered a massive and prompt military response from an international coalition headed by the US against Al Qaida and the fundamentalist regime in Kabul.
“I believed that our presence in Afghanistan should be focused on the reason we went in the first place. To ensure Afghanistan would not be used as a base from which to attack our homeland again. We did that,” president Joe Biden tweeted, one day after Washington announced the decision. He promised that the withdrawal of the US troops by September 1 will not be rushed and asked the Taliban to live up to their commitment not to threaten the US.
To end the country’s longest war, which killed over 2,000 Americans and tens of thousands of Afghans, the Trump administration signed last February in Doha, Qatar, a historic agreement with the Taliban. The deal provided for the withdrawal of all US and foreign troops by May 1, provided that in the future the Taliban would prevent the operation of any terror group in the Afghan territories they control.
NATO will also initiate the orderly, coordinated and deliberate withdrawal of its troops on May 1, reads an official news release issued at the end of a conference call of the defence and foreign ministers of the 30 Allied states. Any Taliban attack on Allied forces during the pull-out will trigger a vigorous response, the Alliance warned.
The countries with the most substantial commitment in Afghanistan at present are the US, Germany, Turkey and Italy. Romania has over 600 troops deployed there. Bucharest was part of the coalition against terrorism ever since the latter was created, and has lost 27 people during such missions in the last 2 decades.
The foreign minister Bogdan Aurescu and the defence minister Nicolae Ciucă appreciated the United States’ approach to the situation in Afghanistan, both in terms of the dialogue and coordination with the Allies, and in terms of encouraging negotiations and the peace process within Afghanistan.
The Romanian officials highlighted Bucharest’s long-term commitment to the stability and security of Afghanistan, and emphasised the need to take into account the Allies’ and Afghanistan’s security interests and the importance of preserving solidarity and unity within NATO.
Minister Ciucă stressed the importance of focusing on the implementation of consistent measures to protect the NATO forces in Afghanistan in the forthcoming period, alongside a coordinated approach to the pull out. He also praised the planning process conducted by the NATO military authorities. (tr. A.M. Popescu)