Taliban demands U.S. withdraw forces by May 1 deadline

The Taliban has rejected President Biden’s decision to withdrawal all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of Al Qaeda’s attack on the U.S., and demanded that all U.S. forces leave by May 1. The Taliban has threatened to resume attacks on U.S. forces if they do not leave by the date agreed upon in the Doha Accords.

President Joe Biden announced on April 14 that “United States will begin our final withdrawal — begin it on May 1 of this year.” He warned that “the Taliban should know that if they attack us as we draw down, we will defend ourselves and our partners with all the tools at our disposal.”

The Taliban, in a statement released on its official website, Voice of Jihad, rejected the extension of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, calling it “a clear violation of the Doha Agreement.”

 “The Islamic Emirate urges America and all occupying countries to stop making excuses for prolonging the war and to withdraw all their forces from Afghanistan immediately,” it noted. “The American side will be held responsible for all future consequences, and not the Islamic Emirate,” the Taliban threatened.

The Taliban claimed that “the Islamic Emirate has so far complied with the agreement exceptionally well,” however it has not. The Doha Accords called for the Taliban to stop Al Qaeda and other foreign groups from operating in areas under its control, but the Taliban has not done so. In fact, Al Qaeda is operating in at least 21 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.

At the end of its demand for the U.S. to withdraw by May 1, the Taliban yet again noted that its goal for Afghanistan is not power sharing with the existing Afghan government, but the reestablishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

“The Islamic Emirate will under no circumstance ever relent on complete independence and establishment of a pure Islamic system,” it noted.

The Taliban believes that only it can create and manage a “pure Islamic system.” It uses the terms “Islamic government,” Islamic system, and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan interchangeably. The Taliban has said the only acceptable outcome is the reestablishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with its leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada as its emir.

With the combination of U.S. forces leaving by the end of the summer, a weak and divided Afghan government, and an Afghan military that has struggled while on the defense, the Taliban’s vision for its Islamic Emirate is coming closer to fruition.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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