Withdrawal symptoms

US President Joe Biden’s abrupt announcement of withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, has caught regional players unawares and is unlikely to be good news for any of them.

Unlike the deal signed by his predecessor, Donald Trump, for a withdrawal on May 1, subject to steps such as the Taliban refusing shelter to Al Qaeda and agreeing to a dialogue with the elected Afghan government, Mr Biden has made the withdrawal unconditional. His announcement overrides Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s March …