Graham says he is very pleased with what the Biden administration is proposing for Afghanistan.

Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham in an interview with CBS has said that the American troops will not leave Afghanistan in May, supporting the Biden administration’s stance on Afghanistan and its bid to review the US-Taliban agreement.

“I’m very pleased with what the Biden administration is proposing for Afghanistan. We’re going to keep troops there on a conditions-based approach,” Graham said.

In response to a question that will the US troops leave Afghanistan post may, Graham said, “I think we’re not going to leave in May. We’re going to leave when the conditions are right. The the Taliban have been cheating. They haven’t been complying. And so I like what Secretary Blinken and the Biden administration is doing.”

“They’re reevaluating our presence in Afghanistan to keep the footprint low, but not to walk away and lose all the gains we’ve achieved,” Graham said. “If we leave too soon without a conditions-based withdrawal, Daesh and al-Qaeda will come roaring back. Women will suffer greatly. So they’re in a good spot, I think, on Afghanistan.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at last week said “we have seen attacks… against individuals, journalists, and others, and of course the high level of violence is something which is of great concern.”

“So, we will make the assessment together, we will make the decision together, and this will be one of the most important topics that will be discussed when we have a NATO Defense Ministerial meeting later this month and decisions will be made,” Stoltenberg said.

He also said that NATO and its allies were faced with “a difficult decision” on Afghanistan and that “we have to make that together. Because my message is that there will be costs and challenges, whatever we decide.”

Bipartisan Panel Urges US to Slow Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal

A study group appointed by US Congress calls on the Biden administration to slow the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, remove the May 1 exit deadline and instead reduce the number of troops only as security conditions improve in the country.

The report finds that removing international forces by the May 1 deadline set in the US-Taliban peace agreement could lead to a civil war in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Study Group began its Congressionally mandated work in April 2020, just weeks after the US and the Taliban signed an agreement on February 2020 on the conditions for a US troop withdrawal that would end US’ long military engagement in Afghanistan.

“We have an interest in an Afghanistan that respects basic human rights. We do not, however, believe that securing these interests requires a permanent US military presence in Afghanistan,” the group said in the report.

The report said that: “An immediate diplomatic effort to extend the current May 2021 withdrawal date in order to give the peace process sufficient time to produce an acceptable result.”

Afghanistan Study Group makes following recommendations for the Afghan peace process: clarify the end state, reinforce the conditionality of a final US troop withdrawal, clarify the US commitment to the current Afghan state, work diplomatically to promote the success of the negotiation process and design an overarching regional diplomatic strategy.

The report has mentioned that a recognition that, in addition to conducting counterterrorism operations and supporting the Afghan forces, a key objective of the ongoing US military presence is to help create conditions for an acceptable peace agreement.

The February 2020 Doha agreement and the subsequent troop reductions clearly demonstrated that the US is prepared to withdraw from Afghanistan. “It should not, however, simply hand a victory to the Taliban,” it said.

“Key consideration of the Study Group was that while we support the values of the Afghan government and recognize that its collapse could create significant problems for the region and beyond, US decisions about America’s presence in Afghanistan cannot be held hostage to the divisions, ineffectiveness, corruption, and shortsightedness that the Afghan government has too often displayed,” the report says.

The report suggested that a reemphasis on diplomacy and negotiation, including a regional diplomatic strategy implemented over the longer term.

“There is broad regional support for a US withdrawal that is responsible rather than precipitate and chaotic. Many countries in the region, especially Pakistan, have influence over the Taliban and other participants in the peace process. They should actively use this influence to make the peace process successful because they will ultimately benefit from its success,” the report says.

The report adds that Afghanistan’s long conflict has entered a new and potentially final phase: a real opportunity to reach a peaceful resolution exists, but the forces of fragmentation remain strong.

“The United States can play a key role in determining if this opportunity is taken. A responsible and coherent set of US actions could greatly increase the chances of a peaceful resolution to forty years of conflict; a rash and rushed approach could increase the chances of a breakdown of order in Afghanistan and a worsening of this long and tragic war with negative consequences for the region and heightened threats to the security and interests of the United States and its allies,” according to the report.

It also urges the US to maintain it’s commitments which made in its February 2020 agreement with the Taliban, which includes a commitment to withdraw our forces under specific, acceptable conditions.

The Study Group, however, believes that it will be very difficult, and perhaps impossible, for those conditions to be achieved by May 2021, when the agreement states that troops should be withdrawn.