The Afghan military adventure is coming to an end. After nearly 20 years of war, the approximately 10,000 NATO soldiers still carrying their boots in Afghanistan – about 7,000 from countries other than the United States – will return home, following the withdrawal signal set by Washington on September 11th. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced Wednesday at the NATO headquarters in Brussels that the allied forces, led by about 2,500 American soldiers, would march in unison. The head of US diplomacy explained that “entering together, adapting together, and leaving together” was the strategy “from the beginning.”
“We will work very closely, in the coming weeks and months, on a safe, planned and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan,” Blinken added, before entering into a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Defense Minister Lloyd Austin. European capital after passing through Germany on Tuesday.
It was scheduled that the three would join this afternoon from Brussels to the meeting of the Atlantic Council, which will be joined by the foreign and defense ministers of the allied countries by video link. On the agenda today, in addition to the withdrawal from Afghanistan, there are “aggressive actions by Russia in and around Ukraine,” in the words of Stoltenberg, whose “massive” spread, the largest in Moscow since 2014, worries the powers. Westerners.
The Afghan ground march, to be announced by US President Joe Biden on Wednesday, marks a turning point in the country’s military history: it will put an end to the longest war in the United States. The same applies to NATO deployment. The current mission, called Resolute Support (RSM), is the successor to the so-called International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the longest in the coalition to date, deployed from 2003 to 2014. At its peak, it had more than 130,000 troops. From 50 NATO countries and associated countries. The current mission, which was launched in 2015, includes 9,592 military personnel from 36 NATO countries and associated countries, and aims to “train, guide and assist Afghan security forces and institutions.”
Germany, the second largest contributor after the United States in terms of troops, with 1,300 troops (Spain contributes 24), confirmed the rhythmic march this Wednesday through its Defense Minister, Angret Kramp-Karenbauer. “We have always said that we will go together and we will go out together,” he said in an interview with German public broadcaster ARD television, cited by Reuters. I call for an orderly withdrawal and I hope we decide today. ”However, Tuesday’s meeting between Kramp Karenbauer and the US Secretary of Defense indicates that despite showing a smooth facade, some allies have been frustrated by Washington’s unilateral vision and little consultation with the rest: it was The decision to leave Afghanistan is the result of a lot: a consensus in NATO, like Washington’s initiative, which the rest have joined.
The withdrawal announcement is not a complete surprise. “American policy has followed this trend for some time,” explains Matthew Wilner-Reid, an Afghanistan specialist at the European Peace Institute, a public institution that advises the Kabul government in its negotiations with the Taliban. But many expected a conditional withdrawal based on progress in the peace process. ”On the other hand, Biden’s decision appears aimed at a withdrawal unrelated to the progress of the talks launched by the Taliban and the Kabul government in Doha (Qatar) in September.
“It is clear that we are still far from an agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government to end the war,” according to Wilner Reid, who believes that there is only a “small window” for this process to lead to a framework agreement that lays the foundations for peace between the two sides before the withdrawal. “In Afghanistan, many will be nervous about what will happen in the next six months,” he describes. Although he does not expect that the Taliban will “be able to march on Kabul” when NATO forces are expelled, he believes it is imperative that the international community send “a clear and strong signal of their long-term commitment; the unity of the politicians in Kabul will be vital as well.” “.
Minister Blinken reiterated that “our commitment to Afghanistan and its future will remain,” after making sure that he considers that the international mission is leaving the country with “goals that have been achieved”.