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Afghani Parliament Member ‘Pessimistic’ About Country’s Future Amid U.S. Troop Pullout



After President Joe Biden announced he will withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Afghanistan Thursday to “sell” officials on the decision, as not all Afghans appear to be happy about Biden’s move, according to the Associated Press.

Naheed Farid, a member of the Afghani Parliament, was one of the civic leaders who met with Blinken at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

“My views are very pessimistic,” Farid told reporters. She did not explain the reason for her negative views.

However, she did tweet a YouTube video from Afghan news network TOLOnews, titled “Foreign Troops’ Withdrawal May Cause Civil War: Afghan Lawmakers,” on Wednesday.

Foreign Troops’ Withdrawal May Cause Civil War: Afghan Lawmakers via @YouTube

— Naheed A. Farid (@FaridNaheed) April 14, 2021

A few U.S. lawmakers and human rights advocates have argued against the removal of U.S. troops because of concerns that Afghans will lose freedoms they gained after the Taliban lost control of the country in 2001, the AP reported.

“We respect the decision and are adjusting our priorities,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told Blinken at the presidential palace in Kabul.

About 2,500 U.S. soldiers remain in Afghanistan, and removing them will end America’s longest war.

“While we will not stay involved in Afghanistan militarily, our diplomatic and humanitarian work will continue. We’ll continue to support the government of Afghanistan,” Biden said in a speech on Wednesday. “We will keep providing assistance to the Afghan National Defenses and Security Forces.”

U.S. Army soldiers retrieve their duffel bags after they returned home from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan on December 10, 2020, at Fort Drum, New York.
John Moore/Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Blinken sought to assure senior Afghan politicians that the United States remains committed to the country.

“I wanted to demonstrate with my visit the ongoing commitment of the United States to the Islamic Republic and the people of Afghanistan,” Blinken told Ghani as they met at the presidential palace in Kabul. “The partnership is changing, but the partnership itself is enduring.”

Later, in a meeting with Abdullah Abdullah, who heads the National Reconciliation Council, Blinken repeated his message, saying that “we have a new chapter, but it is a new chapter that we’re writing together.”

“We are grateful to your people, your country, your administration,” Abdullah said.

NATO immediately followed Biden’s lead on Wednesday, saying its roughly 7,000 non-American forces in Afghanistan would be departing within a few months, ending the foreign military presence that had been a fact of life for a generation of Afghans already reeling from more than 40 years of conflict.

Blinken arrived in the Afghan capital from Brussels, where he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin briefed NATO officials on the U.S. decision and won quick approval from the allies to end their Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

Biden, Blinken and Austin have all tried to put a brave face on the pullout, maintaining that the U.S.- and NATO-led missions to Afghanistan had achieved their goal of decimating Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network that launched the 9/11 attacks and clearing the country of terrorist elements that could use Afghan soil to plot similar strikes.

Despite billions of U.S. dollars in aid, 20 years after the invasion, more than half of Afghanistan’s 36 million people live on less than $1.90 a day, according to World Bank figures. Afghanistan is also considered one of the worst countries in the world for women’s rights and wellbeing, according to the Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security.

For many Afghans the past two decades have been disappointing, as corruption has overtaken successive governments and powerful warlords have amassed wealth and loyal militias who are well armed. Many Afghans fear the chaos will worsen even more once America leaves.

Peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are at a stalemate but are supposed to resume later this month in Istanbul.

Under an agreement signed between the Trump administration and the Taliban last year, the U.S. was to have completed its military withdrawal by May 1. Although Biden is blowing through that deadline, angering the Taliban leadership, his plan calls for the pullout to begin on May 1. The NATO withdrawal will commence the same day.

The Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahed, warned Wednesday that “problems will be compounded,” if the U.S. misses the May 1 withdrawal deadline. The insurgent movement has yet to respond to Biden’s surprise announcement that the pullout would only start on that date.

“It is time to end America’s longest war,” Biden said in his announcement in Washington on Tuesday, but he added that the U.S. will “not conduct a hasty rush to the exit.”

Biden, along with Blinken and Austin in Brussels, vowed that the U.S. would remain committed to Afghanistan’s people and development.

“Bringing our troops home does not mean ending our relationship with Afghanistan or our support for the country,” Blinken said. “Our support, our engagement and our determination remain.”

Austin said that the U.S. military, after withdrawing from Afghanistan, will keep counterterrorism “capabilities” in the region to keep pressure on extremist groups operating within Afghanistan. Asked for details, he declined to elaborate on where those U.S. forces would be positioned or in what numbers.



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