General Kenneth F. Mckenzie, Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM) on Tuesday explained that he is working on a concept that would ensure Afghanistan does not become a terrorist’s safe haven again, and there shouldn’t be any threat to America and its interests.
The concept is aimed at enhancing America’s ability to “strike terrorists and capitalize on partnerships elsewhere in the region”.
He stressed that CENTCOM is also working closely with the US and NATO-led Resolute Support mission to ensure achievement of a “deliberate synchronized” withdrawal, which would protect the military personnel during the pullout.
He said the U.S will continue to provide security assistance to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces on a bilateral basis.
The department of defense is “working through how we will manage this effort without personnel in Afghanistan, to manage security assistance, we’re also steadfastly supporting ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve Afghanistan’s long war while holding the Taliban to their part of the February 2020 commitment that they will end their relationship with al-Qaeda and prevent the use of Afghanistan by any group or individual against the security of the United States and its allies”, McKenzie said.
Meanwhile, US law makers raise concerns over future of Afghanistan after US/NATO troops’ withdrawal in a US Senate Foreign Relation Committee.
“How we withdraw and what political arrangement is left in our wake matters deeply”, Bob Menendez Chairman of US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said.
“If the Taliban were to come back to power, the reality for Afghanistan’s women and girls, I think, would be devastating”, Menendez also expressed that does not “believe under any circumstances that the United States Senate will support assistance for Afghanistan, especially under the World Bank’s program which provides budget support, if the Taliban has taken a governing role that ends civil society advances and rolls back women’s rights.”
During the hearing, the US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation doubted that any support from a government in the future to support an inclusive system (Taliban included) in Afghanistan would be conditional.
“If they do want US assistance, they want international acceptance … those things will be all affected by how they treat their own citizens, first and foremost the women of Afghanistan, children and minorities,” Khalilzad said.
“We should all remain concerned that those rights could suffer,” he added.
Referring to keeping any leverage to protect these rights after the withdrawal, Khalilzad indicated that aid and other types of diplomatic supports would be lifted “if they did not respect the human rights of Afghan women or others”.
US Senator Jim Risch during his remarks said that the withdrawal process should ensure and safeguard the gains of the past two decades made in Afghanistan.
“I have deep concerns about the administration’s rush for the exits in Afghanistan”, Risch said.
“I hope I’m wrong, but I’m concerned that the administration’s decision may result in a Taliban offensive that topples the government”, he noted.
Khalilzad in his turn said, that he does not presume that Afghanistan is going to collapse or the “Taliban is going to take over”, he added “the choice that the Afghans face is between a negotiated political settlement or a long war,”.
This comes as Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in an interview with CNN said that the Taliban could take over Afghanistan and the country may plunge into civil war following the US withdrawal by September 11th and that this could be a “certain possible scenario”.
According to Blinken, Biden’s administration is planning for every scenario, he said the US is not disengaging from Afghanistan and that there will be a “deeply” US engagement in supporting Afghanistan after troops leave the country.
The withdrawal decision, has brought up different opinions citing a hasty withdrawal could result in Taliban retaliation.
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, told CNN, “it’s difficult to see a scenario that doesn’t end in civil war or a Taliban takeover.”
But according to Blinken unrest is a possible scenario.
He denied, “disengaging” from Afghanistan, he added the US is committed to the country and “its people, development, economic assistance, humanitarian assistance, support for the security forces”.
“So, a lot of people are having their minds concentrated by the president’s decision and besides that – even as we are withdrawing our forces, we are not disengaging from Afghanistan,” he added, US is “deeply engaged in the diplomacy, in support for the Afghan government and its people”.
Biden urged nations “free riders” in the region to help and support Afghanistan, and use their “influence” for a stable Afghanistan.
“I don’t think ultimately either the Afghan government or the Taliban do, none of Afghanistan’s neighbors do, neighbors and other countries in the region that have basically been free riders for the last 20 years, as we’ve been engaged there with our NATO allies and partners who are now going to have to decide, given their interests in a relatively stable Afghanistan, given the influence that they have, whether they’re going to try to use that influence in a way that keeps things within the 40-yard line,” Blinken said.
“We have trained over the years more than 300,000 of them so all to that remains and there are different actors are work now who I hope will keep moving this in a more positive than negative direction”, Blinken stressed that US “plans” for every scenario.
US Secretary of State whined that Biden Administration is working on ensuring Afghans who “put their lives on the line” working with US military and diplomats in the past 20 years, will be able to migrate safely to the United States, the fearful locally employed citizens are ensured for their protection through Special Immigration Visa process.
CNN quoted Blinken saying, “we have had this program in Iraq and also in Afghanistan and we want to make sure that people who put their lives on the line, working with American folks in uniform, working with our diplomats who put, not just themselves in jeopardy, potentially their families as well, can get expedited consideration if they decide that they want to try to come to the United States”.
“We have got about 18,000 people already in the pipeline, 9,000 of whom are relatively far along, another 9,000 are just at the beginning of the process, and you know, clearly more are likely to sign up, so we are working very hard to make sure that we’ve got in place the resources to work that program – to work it quickly, expeditiously”, Blinken urged the Senators and the Law Makers in the house to work together and “make sure that the program has the resources it needs”.