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Biden after officially announcing the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

For many Americans, President Biden’s decision to order the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, ending a war that has cost $2 trillion and the lives of 2,400 service members, was good news 20 years in the making.

  • For many Afghans, it was “shocking” and “very hard to digest,” Haji Ajmal Rahmani, a prominent member of the Afghan parliament, tells Axios.

Why it matters: Rahmani believes the period leading up to Biden’s announcement represented the best opportunity for peace in his country in decades.

The backdrop: A peace conference was scheduled to take place in Istanbul on April 24 as part of a U.S.-backed push to accelerate intra-Afghan negotiations.

  • Rahmani and other Afghan stakeholders had been receiving signals that any decision by Biden would be conditions-based, as previous withdrawal efforts had been.
  • Then came last week’s news that Biden would withdraw all troops by Sept. 11 regardless of the military and political circumstances, and with it a Taliban boycott of peace talks until "all foreign forces completely withdraw."
  • Rahmani saw that as a major blow to the Afghan government that took the wind out of the sails of the peace process. He says the Taliban is now claiming victory, convinced they will be able to take back vast amounts of territory by force without having to return to the negotiating table.

But despite his initial despair, Rahmani says he respects Biden’s decision and believes the situation can be “managed."

  • The Taliban remains vulnerable to diplomatic pressure points, like terrorist blacklists and the 7,000 prisoners still in the custody of the Afghan government. And robust international funding for the military, especially the Afghan Air Force, could be enough to at least hold the Taliban to a stalemate and force them to return to peace talks, Rahmani says.
  • But without sufficient support, he argues, the preservation of women’s rights, freedom of speech and any semblance of a stable Afghanistan are at serious risk.

Go deeper

Trump calls Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal "wonderful" and "positive"

Donald Trump in 2018. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Former President Trump said President Biden's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan is "a wonderful and positive thing to do," but criticized the timeline and said the U.S. "should get out earlier."

Why it matters: The statement puts Trump once again at odds with top Republicans who have widely condemned the move, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) calling it a "grave mistake" and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) saying the withdrawal is a "disaster in the making."

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.

Former Georgetown tennis coach pleads guilty to accepting admissions bribes

Gordon Ernst (left) former head tennis coach at Georgetown, outside a courthouse in Boston in 2019. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A former Georgetown University head tennis coach has pleaded guilty Tuesday to bribery charges related to facilitating the admission of prospective applicants.

Why it matters: Gordon Ernst solicited and accepted bribes from William Singer, ringleader of the cheating scheme uncovered by Operation Varsity Blues, and families in exchange for helping prospective applicants get into Georgetown as student athletes, according to the Justice Department.