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EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., on Monday urged President Biden to keep to the current timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan, warning that any delay could lead to a “slippery slope.”
“I respectfully urge you to continue to remove United States servicemembers from Afghanistan in the coming weeks, with the goal of ensuring all our brave men and women in uniform return from the theater before May,” Biggs said in a letter to Biden.
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Under the Trump administration, the U.S. agreed to a deal with the Taliban that sees all troops withdrawn by May, in return for peace talks and a cessation of attacks from the extremist Islamic movement. It would bring an end to a U.S. involvement that began shortly after 9/11.
But Biggs noted the findings of a recent study which recommends that the United States withdrawal date be extended “in order to give the peace process sufficient time to produce an acceptable result.”
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently did not say whether the May deadline would be met amid continuing violence and Taliban attacks in the country.
“We are mindful of the looming deadlines, but we want to do this methodically and deliberately,” Austin said on Friday. “But we’re focused on making sure that we make the right decisions, and we’ll go through this process deliberately.”
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Austin said that Taliban violence “must decrease now” for there to be progress made in negotiations.
Biggs warned that a call to delay the withdrawal “is an all-too-familiar slippery slope.”
“The war in Afghanistan has already lasted nearly two decades. Over the course of that conflict, we have lost thousands of our brave warriors and spent trillions of dollars. Staying in Afghanistan any longer will only continue to place the lives of more servicemembers at risk,” he said. “Furthermore, a continued United States presence in the region is unlikely to lessen the threat of terrorism; in fact, it is more likely to heighten the threat.”
Biggs praised Biden’s move to end U.S. support for Saudi-led operations in Yemen as part of an effort to end the conflict in the war-torn country.
“I hope that you will now turn your attention to putting a long-overdue end to America’s longest war,” he said. “I am very confident that an overwhelming majority of Americans across this country — including many mothers and fathers in Mesa, Arizona, and Scranton.”
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American forces make up about 2,500 of the roughly 10,000 troops training and advising the Afghans.
Other allies have hedged on withdrawing. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently said Germany was prepared to remain to prevent bad actors getting “the upper hand.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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