The chief of the alliance, Jens Stoltenberg reportedly stated that it was not yet time to withdraw NATO troops from Afghanistan. The statement has come days before the meeting of defense ministers from 30 NATO allies to discuss the issue which is far from any breakthrough.
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Alliance) was supposed to remove its forces after Donald Trump struck a peace deal with Taliban, that Pakistan helped secure, and withdrew its forces. However, now the chief has refused to follow the deadline and ordered the remaining troop to overstay until the Taliban fully meet the terms of the peace deal. As the violence persisted in Afghanistan after the deal, US lawmakers fiercely wanted NATO to delay its exit.
Conditions To Withdraw NATO Troops from Afghanistan
NATO is concerned that while many other allies have withdrawn from Afghanistan, it would like to stay and make sure Taliban deliver on all commitments. Meanwhile, NATO claims to continue extending the support towards Afghanistan government.
NATO believes that its exit will ruin the progress alliance has made over the years in reducing terrorism and violence in Afghanistan. Therefore, it presented Afghanistan with a condition-based agreement to let the military stay till Taliban cut ties with terrorist organizations and start peace talks with the government.
Stoltenberg has insisted that their objective is to maintain the peace and stop Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists to attack its allies.
Taliban Warned Against War And Occupation
In return, Taliban have argued that they have strictly followed the terms and accused the US of breaching the peace deal by not withdrawing all forces. They warned that it could lead to a dangerous escalation in the two-decade old war between the two countries. Taliban insisted that their forces were only defending their territory against the US-backed Afghan security forces.
They also warned the members of NATO that if anyone wanted to extend the wars and occupations in Afghanistan, they would be held accountable like previous 20 years. NATO has only 9,600 troops left in Afghanistan after major players pulled out most of their troops. Even the biggest contributor of military, the US has also reduced its troops to 2,500.
There have been few violent incidents in Afghanistan including a bomb attack that killed Kabul’s deputy governor in December 2020. US lawmakers have been calling for the deadline to extend which might be possible now.
Afghanistan Government Accepts NATO Terms
Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs have reportedly accepted the conditions of NATO. It also acknowledged that Taliban have failed to meet number of obligations including cutting ties with terrorist groups.
It is not clear how Taliban will respond to the Afghan government’s approval of NATO’s condition-based approach in Afghanistan.