Under last year’s Doha peace pact between the Trump administration and the Taliban, the US has to withdraw all its troops from the war-torn country by May 1.
With that date only three weeks away, Biden could put off for a number of months the pullout of about US 2,500 troops still stationed in Afghanistan, AP reported.
The exit of the remaining US troops and their equipment by May 1 would be an uphill task logistically, the American media outlet commented.
At his first news conference as president, Biden acknowledged on March 25:”It´s going to be hard to meet the May 1 deadline. Just in terms of tactical reasons, it´s hard to get those troops out.”
AP quoted James Stavidis, a retired Navy admiral who served as NATO’s top commander from 2009 to 2013, as saying it would be unwise at this point leaving Afghanistan quickly.
He added: “Sometimes not making a decision becomes a decision, which seems the case with the May 1 deadline. The most prudent course of action feels like a six-month extension …”
Stavidis called for serious efforts to ensure the Taliban honoured their commitments — essentially permitting a legitimate `conditions-based withdrawal in the fall.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, a former commander of US forces in Afghanistan, warned: “A withdrawal would not only leave America more vulnerable to terrorist threats; it would also have catastrophic effects in Afghanistan and the region…”
A delay in the US pullout could lead to the resumption of Taliban attacks on American and coalition forces, something that may cause the war to intensify.
On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that taking a decision on the May 1 withdrawal deadline was not easy.
He added: “But it´s also an important decision – one he (Biden) needs to make in close consultation with our allies and also with our national security team here in this administration.”