European Allies Ask US to Stay Longer Ensuring Safe NATO Withdrawal from Afghanistan

After years of tough negotiations, the US and Taliban reached a consensus to end the Afghan war. For that, peaceful withdrawal of the US and NATO forces was agreed upon. This was decided in the Doha Agreement that took place on February 29th, 2020.

The agreement included several other terms and conditions that are also to be abided by. The most important of all is the withdrawal of the US and NATO troops from Afghanistan by May, 1st 2021. However, the new Biden Administration, which joined in January 2021, could not comply with the given deadline.

Withdrawal by 11th September

After several sessions of brainstorming, President Biden announced in April that the US forces will withdraw all troops before September 11th 2021. This brought in a reaction from the Taliban, who called it a violation of the agreement. Consequently, soon after the US withdrawal announcement, NATO forces also announced their withdrawal. This does not come as a surprise, as both militaries entered Afghanistan with the objective of \’in together, out together.\’

Request for Extension by NATO

Recently, the US has started to talk about a complete withdrawal by July 4. In response, European forces put forward their concerns over NATO withdrawal before or by the time US forces withdraw. They asked the US to delay the withdrawal from Afghanistan. This will give NATO allies more time and support in the withdrawal process. Considering that, the US stated withdrawal process can be delayed for a few weeks a head of July 4th to accommodate her allies.

Turkey’s Move

Amidst the withdrawal, Turkey has called back its forces from the protection of Hamid Karzai International Airport. This has raised certain concerns among the European countries as no international forces will be safeguarding the international airport. They are uncertain as to whether it is appropriate to keep their embassies active or not after the withdrawal.  Additionally, the Doha Agreement has also sidelined the factor of hiring international contractors. The agreement specifies that all troops and contractors will withdraw.

Back-Up in Qatar

The US Al-Udied Air Base in Qatar will be the first relocation point of the soldiers from Afghanistan. From there on, the soldiers will be sent to their respective countries. To facilitate such activities, the US has mobilized not only transportation aeroplanes but also its fighter jets and its aircraft carrier, USS Eisenhower.

Despite the fact that the withdrawal is to take place peacefully, a few attacks are still underway. A rocket launcher landed in the Kandahar Air Base on May 1st. The US responded by bombing a terrorist hide-out and stated that if provoked, the US will retaliate.

NATO Might Face Complications in the Withdrawal 

The NATO forces outnumber the US forces in Afghanistan. Therefore the European allies have asked the US to delay the withdrawal. They stated that July 4th is too early to conduct a safe and secure pull-out. The US has around 2,500 of its soldiers posted in Afghanistan, whereas NATO has around 7,000 soldiers.

Furthermore, the important regions and bases are currently under NATO\’s control. Germany controls Mizar-e-Sharif, while Italy is responsible for Western Herat. On the other hand, the UK operates alongside the US. The bases are yet to be handed over to the Afghan Government. Similarly, the NATO authorities still need to start evacuating its men and manage the logistics and equipments before the complete withdrawal. These tasks will be time-consuming.

All stakeholders in Afghanistan wish for a peaceful withdrawal. Present circumstances do appear to be unpredictable. Therefore, only through cooperation, trust among the stakeholders can be established and maintained.


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