NATO has announced that it will end its mission in Afghanistan by initiating an “orderly” withdrawal from May and in coordination with the United States in which it intends to withdraw all its forces “in a few months”. The confirmation came after a videoconference meeting of NATO Foreign and Defense Ministers, which Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin attended from Brussels with the secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, to a staging of cooperation between Washington and the rest of the allies.
“In light of the US decision to leave Afghanistan, we have decided to withdraw the May mission and it will be orderly, coordinated and secure. The idea is to complete the withdrawal in a few months,” Stoltenberg said, at a press conference. with Blinken and Austin, following the historic announcement of the President of the United States, Joe Biden, from the White House.
The Norwegian politician stressed that any Taliban attack during the withdrawal will be responded to by Allied forces, while stressing that NATO is opening a “new chapter” in relations with Afghanistan. “We will continue to support Afghanistan but in another way, without thousands of soldiers on the ground, by supporting the peace process and by working so that we do not lose what we have won this time,” he said. -he assures.
The allies approved the withdrawal plan, based on the decision and aligned with the United States. So far, NATO has asserted the importance of continuing in Afghanistan and stressed the importance of the task of training the Afghan forces, which has 9,600 Allied troops, of which around 2,500 are American.
As Stoltenberg acknowledged, the decision to end the mission “is not an easy one” and had become a “dilemma” for the military organization in recent months. “The decision carries risks. I do not underestimate the challenges that lie ahead, but the alternative was to stay and probably increase the troops in the face of increased pressure from the Taliban,” admitted the Secretary-General, who until ‘now made the departure conditional on an improvement in the situation on the ground.
One of the reasons cited by Blinken and Austin is to adapt NATO to the challenges of 2021, when they mentioned China, Russia and Iran as actors who pose a threat to international security. During the press conference, Blinken stressed that maintaining the presence “indefinitely” was not in the best interests of the United States or any of the allies. While Austin called on Allied leaders to carry out this new phase “with professionalism” and in a “orderly” and “safe” manner.
González Laya defends exit from Afghanistan
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, EU and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, has defended that the departure of the Spanish armed forces from Afghanistan is done jointly with the United States and the rest of the NATO members and has assured that they would remain determined to maintain the gains that have been achieved during these twenty years.
This is what the minister said in an interview with RNE after the announcement of the end of the “Resolute Support” mission on Wednesday, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York. “This has been the philosophy of the NATO mission. We want to do it together after this date set by the United States of September 1, to which we hope that all the men and women of the Spanish army will return to our country, ”he says González Laya.
Asked about the follow-up to the work after the withdrawal, the Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated that the Spanish embassy will continue in the Afghan country and that the commitment to maintain the gains will be “maintained”. “Our commitment to support peace, stability and, above all, economic and social progress in this country which has suffered so much will continue,” he said. More specifically, he expressed particular concern about the rights of women and girls, “which has cost so much to defend,” he said.
Similarly, the minister said that for Afghan women, the mission was worth it. “They enjoy rights, not those we would like them to have, but infinitely better than they had 20 years ago,” he stressed and, according to him, assured that although there is had progress, these are “insufficient and fragile”. In this regard, he stressed the need to respect the peace agreements with the Taliban. “We will remain vigilant because we will not accept a regression in these twenty years of little progress and small achievements,” he said.