Ghani says Afghanistan 'fully capable' of defending itself

KABUL (AFP) – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday (April 14) said his forces were “fully capable” of defending Afghanistan, as he revealed he had spoken with his US counterpart Joe Biden about the withdrawal of American soldiers.

“Tonight, I had a call with President Biden in which we discussed the US decision to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan by early September. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan respects the US decision and we will work with our US partners to ensure a smooth transition,” Ghani tweeted.

“Afghanistan’s proud security and defense forces are fully capable of defending its people and country, which they have been doing all along, and for which the Afghan nation will forever remain grateful.”

Biden officially announced on Wednesday the unconditional withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, where they have spent two decades in a bloody, largely fruitless battle against the Taleban.

Administration officials have said he wants the withdrawal completed by Sept 11, 2021.

US intelligence warned this week that the government in Kabul “will struggle” to hold the “confident” Taleban off if the coalition withdraws.

Many Afghans – especially women, who have been largely shut out of peace talks between the insurgents and Kabul – have long feared a return to the Taleban’s repressive Islamist regime if the US withdraws.

Analysts also fear a descent into civil war if Kabul is left to face the Taleban alone. The United Nations documented “extraordinary” violence against civilians in a new report on Wednesday, and said “urgent” action was needed by all parties to stop the fighting.

Dubbed the “forever war,” the US military onslaught in Afghanistan began in response to the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.

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