Democratic opposition to the possible withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan grew on Tuesday with American Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair, calling on the Biden administration to “reconsider” doing so.
Biden’s team hasn’t made a final decision yet. They’re still discussing whether to abide by then-President Donald Trump’s February 2020 deal with the Taliban, which would require America to withdraw all remaining 2,500 US troops from the country by May 1.
Citing his concerns about the Taliban’s violations of the deal, mixed with doubts about the prospect of a peace agreement between the group and the Afghan government, Menendez said Biden should think about prolonging America’s military presence in the country.
“I’m very concerned about the viability of the peace process in Afghanistan,” Menendez said in response to my question during a small press conference organized by his office Tuesday. “The Taliban is clearly not abiding by all of its commitments,” he said, including protecting gains made on women’s and minorities’ rights.
“We may have to reconsider the May 1 deadline from the agreement that we had because the Taliban are simply violating it,” he continued, saying any deal can’t just have one side sticking to it. “No one wants to bring our sons and daughters home as much as I do, but I also don’t want to have shed so much blood and national treasure and see it fall back into chaos.”
And Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), who leads the House Armed Services Committee, said during a Brookings Institution event last week that it was “highly unlikely” the US would meet the troop-extrication deadline.