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US Ready to Pull Out, no Decision yet Made: Pentagon

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The Pentagon on Wednesday said that US commanders are capable to completely withdraw troops from Afghanistan and that this part of the US-Taliban agreement is still on the table despite being reviewed by the Biden administration.

John Kirby Pentagon spokesman told reporters that high-ranking US military commanders including General Scott Miller, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and General McKenzie are ready to withdraw troops from Afghanistan whenever President Biden asks them to do so.

According to Kirby, “what Secretary Austin said when we were in Kabul– which is that he is confident that General McKenzie and General Miller—if the decision is made to completely withdraw US troops from Afghanistan—they will get it done in a safe orderly and effective way,”.

He said Austin was in Kabul “to meet with Afghan and US leaders was to listen to them, their concerns and see the situation for himself.”

“It will inform his participation in the review that’s ongoing… And it will certainly inform the advice, whatever advice that might be, that he will give to President Biden,” Kirby said.

Earlier, President Biden had hinted that meeting the May 1st deadline would be very tough and difficult.

During the NATO ministerial meeting, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas pointed that the complete withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan should not lead to the return of the Taliban to gain power and that the troops’ pullout should be condition-based.

US Ambassador to United Nations Linda Thomas said that the intensified level of violence is threatening the overall peace process.

At a UN Security Council debate, Thomas stressed “the ongoing violence including targeted killings of civilians is unacceptable. Violence now prevents progress towards sustainable peace. Journalists, human rights defenders, and civil servants cannot continue to live in fear,”.

“We condemn these attacks and reiterate our deepest sympathies to their families who had lost their lives. For a peace agreement to be durable and just, it (must) respect the universal human rights of all Afghans including women, girls, and members of minority groups,” she added.

Adela Raz, the Afghan permanent representative to the UN, also said that the international community should ensure that the gains Afghans have made over the past 20 years are protected in the peace process.

Afghan permanent representative to the UN, Adela Raz during the event added that the foreign community must ensure and guarantee the gains of the past 2 decades won’t be threatened by the Taliban.  

Raz indicated that “no peace can last in Afghanistan without securing, protecting, and promoting the gains that we have achieved over the past 20 years. The constitutional order must be preserved, and our democracy protected,”.

 “We welcome the UN’s further engagement in Afghanistan and the appointment of Mr. Jean Arnault as the Secretary General’s Personal Envoy on Afghanistan. We hope that he will complement the critical UN mission in Afghanistan led by SRSG Lyons to bring us closer to sustainable & dignified peace in Afghanistan,” Raz said.

 “Taliban have increased their violence and are targeting our young democracy, our vibrant civil society, and our free and independent press. These attacks are meant to dissuade the participation of women and youth in the peace process, create panic, and crush peace aspirations,” according to Raz

The violence since the US-Taliban peace deal has raged across Afghanistan a move not expected by many, just recently in the past two months, 80 people were killed in targeted assassinations.

On the other hand, Zamir Kabulov, Russian ambassador for Afghanistan said that during the Moscow meeting, the Taliban demanded that peace will only come with the Islamic emirate system.

Kabulov noted “the Taliban’s delegation insisted that it’s restoring an Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan” the only possible solution, but “their opponents disagreed,”.

Kabulov said that Russia is satisfied with the results of the Afghanistan peace conference that Moscow hosted last week and urged the US to comply with agreements to withdraw its troops from the country by May 1.

“This meeting aimed to give an impulse to the stalled intra-Afghan talks in Doha. I think this aim was accomplished,” Associated Press quoted Kabulov.

The Taliban seemed firm to their demand for an Islamic emirate system, without giving any details whether it meant the return of repressive rules in which women and girls did not have any type of rights, while others faced harsh punishments, AP reported.

But the once recognized as a “terrorist” group and currently maintaining no harm to foreign troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban have reportedly been killing Afghans on daily basis according to analysis.

The group has previously stated that their vision of Islamic government will allow girls to attend schools, women to join jobs and be in public, and all the time the group stressed injunctions of Islamic laws not specifying what it meant.

This comes as Stars and Stripes have reported that U.S and Taliban officials are discussing a break off in the US airstrikes on the Taliban.

A temporary airstrike halt is Biden Administration’s new move to reduce Taliban violence and assassinations in Afghanistan.

According to the report, the focus is much on the Taliban to reduce violence first before the Turkey summit.

Afghan army still depends on US airstrikes to keep the Taliban at bay and hold them back, the temporary stop of airstrikes made Pentagon officials skeptical that the granted offer will make the Taliban militants more likely to make peace with the Afghan government.

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