In an interview that aired Wednesday with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America,” President Joe Biden stated that it would be “tough” to withdraw U.S troops currently stationed in Afghanistan by the scheduled deadline of May 1.
“I’m in the process of making that decision now as to when they’ll leave. The fact is, that was not a very solidly negotiated deal that the president, the former president, worked out,” Biden said. “So we’re in consultation with our allies as well as the government, and that decision’s — it’s in process now.”
EXCLUSIVE: Pres. Biden tells @GStephanopoulos it would be “tough” to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by May 1, a deadline set out in a deal former Pres. Trump’s administration made with the Taliban. https://t.co/rIe2ms8sSv pic.twitter.com/oEeCCpqh23
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 17, 2021
Last year, then-President Donald Trump negotiated with the Taliban to yank U.S. military forces from Afghanistan and Iraq. The Afghan government agreed to release as many as 5,000 Taliban prisoners in a trade for 1,000 Afghan prisoners held hostage by the Taliban. The historic peace deal came after nearly two decades of war in Afghanistan.
Out of the troops that have not yet been withdrawn, 3,500 remain. According to The New York Times, more than 1,000 Special Operations forces remain in Afghanistan, of this number. The peace agreement has not yet been authorized by the Afghan government.
“I don’t think a lot longer,” Biden told Stephanopoulos on the length of sustaining troops in the middle east. “[It] could happen, but it is tough,” he added on making the May 1 deadline that Trump put in place.
To date, 3,500 troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan is the lowest number since the conflict initiated. Biden’s decision comes just a month after he put a freeze on Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Germany in July. About 11,900 troops were relocated to the U.S. or other parts of Europe.
“We don’t want to be the suckers anymore,” Trump said to reporters in July. “The United States has been taken advantage of for 25 years, both on trade and on the military. We’re protecting Germany, so we’re reducing the force because they’re not paying the bills. It’s very simple. They’re delinquent. So we’re reducing the force. Now if they start paying their bills … I would think about it.”
Biden’s interview aired a day prior to a meeting in Moscow between leaders from Russia, China, the United States, Pakistan, top Afghan officials, and opposition leaders, as well as Taliban representatives. The Taliban continues to deny that al-Qaida terrorists are responsible for the attacks on Sep. 11, 2001.
This week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to display “urgent leadership” in talks to craft a peace plan with the Taliban.
In reaction to Biden’s indeterminate stance on the withdrawal of troops, a spokesperson for the Taliban said that there would be “consequences” if Trump’s agreement was not abided by. The threat is a warning to resume attacks on U.S forces.