deployed thousands more troops to Afghanistan as part of a “surge,” reaching nearly 100,000 by mid-2010. But the Taliban only grew stronger, inflicting heavy casualties on Afghan security forces despite American combat power and airstrikes.

killed Osama bin Laden in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he had been living for years near a Pakistan military training academy. In June, Mr. Obama announced that he would start bringing American forces home and hand over responsibility for security to the Afghans by 2014.

By then, the Pentagon had concluded that the war could not be won militarily and that only a negotiated settlement could end the conflict — the third in three centuries involving a world power. Afghan fighters defeated the British army in the 19th century and the Russian military in the 20th century.

With the war at a stalemate, Mr. Obama ended major combat operations on Dec. 31, 2014, and transitioned to training and assisting Afghan security forces.

Nearly three years later, President Donald J. Trump said that although his first instinct had been to withdraw all troops, he would nonetheless continue to prosecute the war. He stressed that any troop withdrawal would be based on combat conditions, not predetermined timelines.

But the Trump administration also had been talking to the Taliban since 2018, leading to formal negotiations that excluded the Afghan government, led by President Ashraf Ghani.

an agreement with the Taliban that called for all American forces to leave Afghanistan by May 1, 2021. In return, the Taliban pledged to cut ties with terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, reduce violence and negotiate with the American-backed Afghan government.

release 5,500 Taliban prisoners while receiving little in return, further alienating the Afghan government.

After the deal was signed, the Taliban stopped attacking American troops and refrained from major terrorist bombings in Afghan cities. The United States reduced air support for government forces, generally restricting them to instances in which Afghan troops were in danger of being overrun.

The primary objectives of the 2020 deal were for Afghan leaders and the Taliban to negotiate a political road map for a new government and constitution, reduce violence and ultimately forge a lasting cease-fire.

But the government accused the Taliban of assassinating Afghan government officials and security force members, civil society advocates, journalists and human rights workers — including several women shot in broad daylight.

Because of their strong battlefield position and the imminent U.S. troop withdrawal, the Taliban have maintained the upper hand in talks with the Afghan government, which began in September in Doha, Qatar, but have since stalled. The Pentagon has said the militants have not honored pledges to reduce violence or cut ties with terrorist groups.

After Mr. Biden announced in April the U.S. withdrawal of American forces, NATO said its 7,000 troops in Afghanistan would coordinate their withdrawal with the United States.

The Biden administration says it continues to support peace talks, but the Taliban appear in no hurry to negotiate. Nor have they explicitly said they would agree to a power-sharing government, implying instead that they intend to seek a monopoly on power.

impose tolls and taxes on truckers and motorists, providing official receipts valid anywhere in the country. The militants also have set up checkpoints on the outskirts of major cities, raising fears that they will attempt to wrest control of cities from the government after international forces depart.

The United States has spent at least $4 billion a year on the Afghan military — $74 billion since the start of the war. The Biden administration has pledged to continue supporting Afghan forces after American troops depart.

A classified intelligence assessment presented to the Biden administration this spring said Afghanistan could fall largely under Taliban control within two to three years after the departure of international forces.

And the Taliban have given no indication they will abandon their annual spring offensive, when they typically ratchet up combat operations with the arrival of warmer weather.

“The Taliban is confident it can achieve military victory,” the threat assessment concluded.

The report added: “The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support.”

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The Contradiction That Doomed America’s Mission in Afghanistan

It took barely two months after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 for the United States mission to point itself toward defeat.

“Tomorrow the Taliban will start surrendering their weapons,” the Taliban’s spokesman, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, announced on Dec. 7, 2001. “I think we should go home.”

But the United States refused the group’s surrender, vowing to fight on to shatter the Taliban’s influence in every corner of the country.

That same week, Washington oversaw an international agreement to establish a new government in Afghanistan that would be “by some accounts the most centralized in the world,” said Frances Z. Brown, an Afghanistan expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

announced he is ending after 20 years of war.

wrote in 2019.

And it meant that when the Americans did leave, Ms. Mukhopadhyay warned, “the incentives for Afghan power brokers to go it alone and engage in predatory, even cannibalistic behavior, may prove irresistible.”

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Biden, Setting Afghanistan Withdrawal, Says ‘It Is Time to End the Forever War’

Mr. Bush opted not to publicly second-guess Mr. Biden’s decision.

“As he has maintained since leaving office, President Bush will decline to comment on private phone calls or his successors,” said Freddy Ford, his chief of staff.

A series of Afghan governments have failed to sustain control over vast sections of the country, the essence of the American military’s “clear, hold, build” strategy for years after the initial invasion. While a succession of Afghan leaders, supported by the United States and its allies, promised to fight corruption, end the drug scourge and establish stable governance, all of those gains have proved fragile at best.

Women have taken a more prominent role in the government, and girls have been educated on a scale not seen before the war began. But the future of those gains is in doubt if the Taliban gain more ground.

In a statement on Twitter, President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan said his country “respects the U.S. decision and we will work with our U.S. partners to ensure a smooth transition.” He added that his country’s security forces were “fully capable of defending its people.”

But in private, Mr. Ghani has fumed about the American decision, according to people who have spoken to him. He fears that it will embolden the Taliban, and give them little to no incentive to stick to the terms of the agreement they reached a year ago with Mr. Trump. And many around Mr. Ghani fear that his own government, already diminished in influence, could fall if the Taliban decide to try to take Kabul, the capital.

“Just because we withdraw from Afghanistan doesn’t mean the war ends,” said Lisa Curtis, a top Trump national security official who dealt with Afghanistan. “It probably gets worse.”

Mr. Biden is the first president to have rejected the Pentagon’s recommendations that any withdrawal be “conditions based,” meaning that security would have to be assured on the ground before Americans pulled back. To do otherwise, military officials have long argued, would be to signal to the Taliban to just wait out the Americans — after which they would face little opposition to taking further control, and perhaps threatening Kabul.

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Biden to Withdraw Combat Troops From Afghanistan by Sept. 11

But Mr. Biden’s decision drew fire from Republicans.

“This is a reckless and dangerous decision,” said Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Arbitrary deadlines would likely put our troops in danger, jeopardize all the progress we’ve made, and lead to civil war in Afghanistan — and create a breeding ground for international terrorists.”

President Donald J. Trump had set a withdrawal deadline for May 1, but he was known for announcing, and reversing, a number of significant foreign policy decisions, and Pentagon officials continued to press for a delay. Mr. Biden, who has long been skeptical of the Afghan deployment, spent his first three months in office assessing that timeline.

The Afghan central government is unable to halt Taliban advances, and American officials offer a grim assessment of prospects for peace in the country. Still, American intelligence agencies say they do not believe Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups pose an immediate threat to strike the United States from Afghanistan. That assessment has been critical to the Biden administration as it decided to withdraw most of the remaining forces from the country.

A senior administration official said the troop withdrawal would begin before May 1 and conclude before the symbolic date of Sept. 11. Any attacks on withdrawing NATO troops, the official said, would be met with a forceful response.

Taliban leaders have long pledged that any breach of the deadline means that their forces will again begin attacking American and coalition troops. Under a withdrawal deal negotiated during the Trump administration, the Taliban mostly stopped those attacks — but in past weeks, they have rocketed American bases in Afghanistan’s south and east.

In public statements on Tuesday, Taliban leaders focused not on Mr. Biden’s decision for a full withdrawal — leaving behind a weak central government that has proved incapable of halting insurgent advances around the country — but rather on the fact that the administration was going to miss the May 1 deadline.

“We are not agreeing with delay after May 1,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said on local television. “Any delay after May 1 is not acceptable for us.”

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Biden to Withdraw All Combat Troops From Afghanistan by Sept. 11

But Mr. Biden’s decision drew fire from Republicans.

“This is a reckless and dangerous decision,” said Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Arbitrary deadlines would likely put our troops in danger, jeopardize all the progress we’ve made, and lead to civil war in Afghanistan — and create a breeding ground for international terrorists.”

President Donald J. Trump had set a withdrawal deadline for May 1, but he was known for announcing, and reversing, a number of significant foreign policy decisions, and Pentagon officials continued to press for a delay. Mr. Biden, who has long been skeptical of the Afghan deployment, spent his first three months in office assessing that timeline.

The Afghan central government is unable to halt Taliban advances, and American officials offer a grim assessment of prospects for peace in the country. Still, American intelligence agencies say they do not believe Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups pose an immediate threat to strike the United States from Afghanistan. That assessment has been critical to the Biden administration as it decided to withdraw most of the remaining forces from the country.

A senior administration official said the troop withdrawal would begin before May 1 and conclude before the symbolic date of Sept. 11. Any attacks on withdrawing NATO troops, the official said, would be met with a forceful response.

Taliban leaders have long pledged that any breach of the deadline means that their forces will again begin attacking American and coalition troops. Under a withdrawal deal negotiated during the Trump administration, the Taliban mostly stopped those attacks — but in past weeks, they have rocketed American bases in Afghanistan’s south and east.

In public statements on Tuesday, Taliban leaders focused not on Mr. Biden’s decision for a full withdrawal — leaving behind a weak central government that has proved incapable of halting insurgent advances around the country — but rather on the fact that the administration was going to miss the May 1 deadline.

“We are not agreeing with delay after May 1,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said on local television. “Any delay after May 1 is not acceptable for us.”

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