The United States should extend the May 1 deadline for pulling all its troops from Afghanistan, and make force cuts contingent on progress in peace talks as well as by the Taliban in reducing violence and containing al Qaeda, a bipartisan report to Congress said on Wednesday.
A May deadline is fast approaching for the U.S. to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan, but a bipartisan report delivered to Congress on Wednesday says that would be too early.
The U.S. agreed to pull its troops from Afghanistan by May 1 in a 2020 agreement with the Taliban.
However, the Afghanistan Study Group says a military drawback should be contingent on peace talks.
U.S. officials say the Taliban has maintained ties with al Qaeda and talks have stalled.
The Taliban denies the affiliation and has threatened to resume attacks on foreign forces if they remain in Afghanistan past the May 1 deadline.
This new report, however, warns withdrawing all U.S. troops could lead to civil war, destabilize the region, and reinvigorate al Qaeda.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price responded on Wednesday, saying negotiations with the Afghan government are ongoing.
He said, “No decisions about our force posture have been made.
We are committed, as I said, to supporting the diplomatic process.
And we're committed to ensuring that Afghanistan never again provides a base for terrorist attacks against the United States, our partners or our interests." Report co-chair and Retired Marine General Joseph Dunford told reporters the study has been shared with the Biden White House.
Former President Donald Trump ordered a drawback of U.S. soldiers by last month, even as violence in Afghanistan surged.
Some lawmakers, like GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, took issue with Trump’s decision.
In a statement, he praised the Wednesday report, saying, “We took our eye off Afghanistan, and that can never happen again.”