President Joe Biden on Wednesday formally announced his decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan before September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that led the US into its longest war.
“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” Biden said.
“I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats,” he added. “I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”
In a sign he views his remarks as a historic bookend to the prolonged conflict, he delivered them from precisely the same spot in the White House Treaty Room that President George W. Bush announced the start of the war on October 7, 2001.
Afterward he’ll visit the section of Arlington National Cemetery where many of America’s war dead from Afghanistan are buried.
Biden will say that American diplomatic and humanitarian efforts will continue in Afghanistan and would support peace efforts between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But he’ll be unequivocal that two decades after it began, the Afghanistan war is ending.
“It is time to end America’s longest war. It is time for American troops to come home,” he said.
Biden said the withdrawal will begin on May 1, in line with an agreement President Donald Trump’s administration made with the Taliban. He said the complete withdrawal will be done by September 11.
The deadline Biden has set is absolute, with no potential for extension based on worsening conditions on the ground. Officials said after two decades of war, it was clear to the President that throwing more time and money at Afghanistan’s problems wasn’t going to work.
“This is not conditions-based,” a senior administration official heavily involved in the deliberations said on Tuesday. “The President has judged that a conditions-based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever.”
Some US troops will remain to protect American diplomats, though officials declined to provide a precise number.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Wednesday he spoke to Biden and that he “respects the US decision.”
“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,” Ghani said on Twitter.
Israel-Palestine Conflict: Rockets fired from Lebanon land off Israeli coast
Three rockets were fired from Lebanon toward Israel on Thursday, raising fears that violence between Israel and the Gaza Strip could spill over into other parts of the region.
The Israeli military announced that the rockets landed into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of northern Israel. No casualties were immediately reported from the strike.
The attack raises the risk of the violence expanding to two fronts as violence between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip shows no signs of abating in the near future.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the latest attack, and Lebanese officials familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that it was unclear which group launched the rockets or precisely where they landed.
South Lebanon is the power base of the Shiite organization Hezbollah and other armed groups that have clashed with the Israeli military in the past, including during a brutal war in 2006.
The launches from Lebanon come as the Israeli military builds up its presence along the border with the Gaza Strip, with Israel not ruling out a ground offensive into the enclave to stop the rocket attacks.
An incursion would be the first since 2014, when dozens of Israeli troops and thousands of Palestinians were killed during the most recent war between Israel and Hamas, the armed group that controls the Gaza Strip.
Israel has launched a string of punishing air strikes on Gaza after Hamas and other groups fired a barrage of rockets across Israel. In a sign of the escalating violence, Hamas made the rare move of targeting Jerusalem and sending a flood of rockets to Tel Aviv, Israel’s major metropolitan area.
The violence was sparked after a now-suspended case in Israel over whether Jewish settlers could evict Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Clashes between residents and police escalated when Israeli police raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the waning days of the holy month of Ramadan.
U.S. Colonial Pipeline Pays N2.043b In Ransom To Hackers
U.S. Colonial Pipeline has paid a ransom close to $5million, about N2.043 billion to hackers, who disrupted its gas supply to America’s east coast.
According to Bloomberg, the company paid the Eastern European hackers on Friday, contradicting earlier reports that it did not plan to pay.
Colonial Pipeline paid in cryptocurrency that was not traceable just hours after the attack, two sources with knowledge on the matter told Bloomberg on Thursday morning.
Upon getting the payment, the hackers provided Colonial Pipeline with a decrypting tool to restore the hacked network, according to the sources.
The FBI believes that the crippling cyberattack was orchestrated by a Russia-based criminal group.
The company said it started resuming operations Wednesday evening and by Thursday morning, product was flowing to most of the markets it services.
Israel And Palestine Conflict: Israeli Forces Hit Hamas Military Intelligence Centre, Many Feared Dead
Israeli Forces Hit Hamas Military Intelligence Centre, Many Feared Dead
The Israel Defense Forces has reported that it has just conducted an airstrike on a Hamas intelligence facility with dozens of operatives inside.
Moments ago, IDF jets and aircraft struck Hamas military intelligence offices in Gaza.
Before the strike, we warned civilians in the building & allowed sufficient time for them to evacuate the site.
We are continuing to strike terror targets in Gaza.
Israel Defense Forces
These are the faces of some of the top Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders and terrorists.
They were responsible for the rocket attacks against Israel in the last 72 hours.
They will never plan another terror attack again.
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