The withdrawal of troops from abroad has raised fears that Afghanistan could turn into a rifting country, erupting into civil war
A top US general said on Tuesday he had serious doubts about the Taliban’s credibility as a negotiating partner, as the US is set to remove its entire military from Afghanistan in the coming months and focus on diplomacy.
Last week, President Joe Biden said All US troops will be withdrawn September 11, to end the longest US war, rejecting calls for US forces to stay to secure a peaceful resolution to Afghanistan’s fierce internal conflict.
Under former President Donald Trump, the Taliban negotiated an agreement with the United States, in talks that did not include the Afghan government, on withdrawing US forces in exchange for security guarantees. Some US officials said the Taliban had not fulfilled their part of the deal.
“I have great doubts about the reliability of the Taliban … but we need to see what they will do here,” United States Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie, the head of the Central Command Command Center for Forces in Afghanistan, told a hearing by the US House Armed Services Commission on Capitol Hill.
“If they want any kind of future international recognition for Afghanistan … they will have to keep the deals they made,” McKenzie said, adding that the US military remains. can observe them and verify their actions.
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when they were eliminated by US-led forces, following the attacks of September 1, 2001 on New York City and Washington, DC. Since then, they have launched a protracted rebellion and still control vast territories.
The withdrawal of foreign troops has raised concerns that the country could erupt in a full-blown civil war, providing space for al-Qaeda to rebuild and plan new attacks on the US and other another target.
A UN report in January said as many as 500 al-Qaeda militants in Afghanistan and the Taliban still maintain close ties with the tough group. The Taliban have denied al-Qaeda has a presence in Afghanistan.
Announcing his decision to withdraw his troops, Biden said the US would monitor the threat, reorganize its counterterrorism capabilities, and keep significant assets in the region to react to threats emerged from Afghanistan.
McKenzie said he would provide Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin a plan for anti-terrorist forces outside of Afghanistan by the end of the month. He warned that the loss of the current US military network in Afghanistan, and the intelligence it allows, will have an impact.
“If you are abroad and you don’t have the ecosystem that we have out there right now, it will be harder to do it. It is not impossible to do that. It will be harder to do it, ”he said.
His testimony was made in the context of a US-backed conference between the Taliban and the Afghan government scheduled to start on April 24, which was postponed until mid-May, Reuters news agency reported.
An Afghan government spokesman declined to comment. A Taliban spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, one of the chairmen of the talks, said the talks were postponed until after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, adding that participation in the conference is still not clear.
A top White House official said on Sunday that no one would be able to give guarantees about Afghanistan’s future after foreign troops leave, even as he insisted that the United States would focus on the The threat comes from this country.
In addition, about 7,000 NATO troops and 6,000 US contractors, including those supporting the Afghan military with tasks such as aircraft maintenance, will be withdrawn.
McKenzie said he did not “want to reduce” the possibility of US intelligence and support the Afghan military that the removal of contractors would entail.
Whether that undermines the government of Kabul’s ability to defend itself against Taliban attacks will depend on whether the country is broken McKenzie said after the US pulled out.
“It will depend on the nation as a whole, if the country breaks down, if there is a civil war,” McKenzie said.