As the last U.S. service member got on a plane to leave Afghanistan, President Joe Biden faced heavy criticism for sticking to the deadline to withdraw troops. However, Biden said that his hands were tied by the agreement former President Trump and his administration made with the Taliban last year.
“The choice I had to make, as your president, was either to follow through on that agreement or be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban in the middle of the spring fighting season,” Biden said in a recent address.
Trump wanted U.S. troops out of Aghanistan.
Trump, like Biden, wanted to see U.S. troops get out of Afghanistan, where they have been embroiled in a war with the Taliban since October 7, 2001. In 2019, Trump secretly invited Taliban leaders and then Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to Camp David for peace talks. But he canceled the meeting and called off peace negotiations after the Taliban admitted to an attack on Kabul that killed one U.S. soldier and 11 others.
“What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position” Trump tweeted on September 7, 2019.
Trump agreed to withdraw U.S. troops by May 2021.
Five months later, in February 2020, Trump and the Taliban struck a deal. Under provisions of the peace deal, the U.S. would withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan within 14 months. The U.S. would start by reducing the number of soldiers from 14,000 to 8,600 within the first 100 days after the agreement was made.
The rest of the U.S. troops would leave over the following months until the total withdrawal date by May 1, 2021. When Biden took office, he pushed that deadline date to Aug. 30.
The U.S. also agreed to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for the Taliban releasing 1,000 of its prisoners.
Taliban agreed to stop attacks on U.S. troops.
For their end of the bargain, the Taliban agreed to stop attacks on U.S. forces and coalition forces. Although they also agreed to prevent any group or individual in Afghanistan from threatening the security of the U.S. and its allies, there was nothing in the agreement to hold them to their word.
Taliban leaders pledged to continue peace talks with the Afghan government, but those talks have since fallen apart and Ghani fled the country.
Trump’s agreement seemed favorable to the Taliban.
The agreement also didn’t require the Taliban to denounce al-Qaeda—the terrorist group responsible for the 9/11 attack on the U.S. The group reportedly ran the terror attack from Afghanistan. The agreement also didn’t stop the Taliban from attacking Afghan forces.
Critics of Trump’s deal with the Taliban say that the agreement favored the Taliban.
“Trump all but assured the future course of events would reflect the Taliban’s interests far more than the United States,” wrote Paul Miller, a Georgetown University professor of international affairs, in a piece for The Dispatch.