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Biden won't withdraw American forces from Afghanistan

The lone customer at the Simple Café in Kabul has high hopes for America's president-elect.

"Biden won't withdraw American forces from Afghanistan. He'll stay and fight the Taliban," says Sakina Hussaini, a 23-year-old arts student.

She gestures to the empty cafe; it used to be a popular hangout. Now, most people are staying home because of an uptick in deadly car bombings, gunfights and other attacks on civilians across the capital and the country.

"Trump was not beneficial for our country," says Hussaini, who accuses the U.S. president of emboldening the Taliban by overseeing a peace agreement with them, signed in February.

What Joe Biden's Presidency May Mean For Afghanistan

That deal includes provisions for a conditional withdrawal of U.S. forces after nearly two decades at war in Afghanistan. If the deal goes to plan, they will have fully withdrawn by next spring.

But the White House appears to be accelerating its drawdown, creating fresh uncertainty over the situation Joe Biden will inherit on Jan. 20.

On Tuesday, Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be cut to 2,500 by Jan. 15. There are currently about 4,500 U.S. troops in the country.

Afghan officials warn such a move could plunge their country further into upheaval and serves as a signal to the Taliban that they need not honor their commitments.

"We don't want the U.S. to stay here forever," says Javid Faisal, a political adviser to the Afghan National Security Council, "but we also want the withdrawal to be responsible, and don't expect our ally to burn the house when it leaves."

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned in a statement on Tuesday that a hasty withdrawal could risk Afghanistan "becoming once again a platform for international terrorists to plan and organize attacks on our homelands," saying the Islamic State "could rebuild in Afghanistan the terror caliphate it lost in Syria and Iraq."

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