The Pentagon confirmed to this reporter that they are aware of the reports, but wouldn’t comment on the stories and deferred any questions to the White House. The White House didn’t immediately respond.
Currently, the Pentagon says there are 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. There’s been a presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan for 19 years.
Daniel Hoffman is a retired clandestine services officer and former chief of station with the Central Intelligence Agency. In a phone interview with this reporter on Tuesday, Hoffman questioned whether Biden has a plan to combat the existing and growing national security threats from terrorist groups in the region like ISIS and Al Qaeda.
In a recent op-ed for The Washington Times, Hoffman wrote that Biden should be careful not to let the region become a safe haven for terrorists. “Cognizant that the Obama administration’s precipitous withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 helped create the conditions for ISIS to flourish, Mr. Biden should keep firmly in mind the distinction between an ‘endless war’ and a forward-deployed U.S. presence — strictly limited in personnel and scope and buttressed by allied contributions — that defends our clear national interests and doesn’t outsource them to unreliable partners or hostile actors.”
Moreover, Hoffman said Biden’s reasoning for making the deadline September 11 seemed “political.” “That date has a very serious meaning for us,” he said, referring to the 2001 Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.
Biden has previously indicated his future plans to draw down the number of troops in the region and recently said he “can’t picture” having U.S. troops there next year.
A May 1 deadline remains in place for Biden to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan under a deal brokered between the Trump administration and the Taliban. Biden, however, has been opposed to the Trump-Taliban deal while still supporting a pull-out of U.S. troops. However, he has yet to provide a definitive timeline.
Last month, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Kabul where he met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. On a later February 5 call, Austin and Ghani spoke of the need for a deal to end the war and agreed on working towards peace.
Follow Jennie Taer on Twitter @JennieSTaer
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Mental health crisis spikes among Afghan women after Taliban regained control two years ago
The women of Afghanistan are suffering a mental health crisis since the Taliban regained power two years ago. According to a joint report from three U.N. agencies released Tuesday, approximately 70% of women experience feelings of anxiety, isolation and depression.
The numbers continue to rise, as there has already been a significant jump between April and June of this year alone, with an increase from 57% the preceding quarter.
The report, conducted by U.N. Women, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, interviewed women online, in-person and in group consultations as well as individual telesurveys.
592 Afghan women in 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces took part in the study. The Associated Press reports:
They have barred women from most areas of public life and work and banned girls from going to school beyond the sixth grade. They have prohibited Afghan women from working at local and non-governmental organizations. The ban was extended to employees of the United Nations in April.
Opportunities to study continued to shrink as community-based education by international organizations was banned and home-based schooling initiatives were regularly shut down by the de facto authorities — a term use by the U.N. for the Taliban government.
Afghanistan is the only country in the world with restrictions on female education and the rights of Afghan women and children are on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
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