Ghani says Biden’s withdrawal decision was a game changer but govt respects it

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Tuesday at a virtual conference that US President Joe Biden’s decision, endorsed by NATO, to withdraw all foreign troops from the country has been a “game-changing and game-shaping decision”.

Addressing delegates at the Looking towards Peace in Afghanistan after the US-NATO Withdrawal Conference, organized by the Arab Center Washington, Ghani said: “By ending the guessing game regarding the presence of the US forces, whether they will stay, or what they were here for, all stakeholders whether state or non-state had to rethink their assumptions and examine their interests vis a vie the new context and work with us to reframe and accelerate a peace that will lead to a just and lasting peace for the people of Afghanistan and of predictable and stable order for partnership with our neighbors, the region, the Islamic world, and our international partners.”

He said Biden’s decision had not been unexpected but that its resulted in a transition for which “we have mentally been dreading”.

But he said Afghan leaders, himself included, respect Biden’s decision and are now focused on the next chapter of dealings with the US, NATO and other partners who have helped and supported Afghanistan over the years with both “blood and treasure”.

His address came just two days before his trip to the US where he will meet with Biden to discuss the current situation in the country, the peace process and other issues.

On this note, Ghani stated he was looking forward to his discussion with Biden later this week.

Drawing a parallel to the uncertainty the world is facing due to COVID-19, he said it was this type of uncertainty that the people of Afghanistan have dealt with 43 years continuously.

Ghani however stated that the more people point towards a possible collapse of government or hostile takeover, once foreign forces have left, the more they are contributing to anxiety, and to uncertainty among Afghans.

“We as a people, have been denied for 43 years the very basic right of a society – the right to peace.”

He said Afghans are not asking the world for indefinite support but are asking for understanding, for empathy and for partnerships in a meaningful way.

He said should Afghanistan be engulfed in intense conflict, like that seen in Syria and Yemen, “no one in the region will be spared. The consequences will be spread.”

He said the context has changed following the withdrawal decision and that the narrative that occupiers are in Afghanistan “is over”. But the Afghan government has welcomed the departure of foreign troops from the country, he said.

However, partnerships are “going to shift fundamentally” and the new chapter will focus on bringing peace, prosperity and connectivity to Afghanistan, he said.