US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Afghanistan today on an unannounced visit with the aim of presenting to the Afghan Government the plan of the Administration of President Joe Biden on the withdrawal of all US troops from Afghan soil and from Gradually from now until September 11, when the jihadist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon will be 20 years old .
Blinken, who arrived in Kabul after attending the NATO talks in Brussels, has met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani , whose government remains engaged in fierce fighting with the Taliban insurgents , as the US-backed peace process is embroiled. in uncertainty .
The head of US diplomacy tried to reassure Ghani that despite the withdrawal of US troops, the US would remain committed to Afghanistan, and said Washington will “step up” its diplomacy to do “everything” it can to move forward. in efforts to achieve a peace agreement between Kabul and the insurgents.
“The reason I am here, so quickly after the president’s speech last night, is to literally demonstrate, by our presence, that we have an ongoing commitment to Afghanistan,” Blinken said at the embassy, according to a press report. He was in Kabul for about eight hours.
Fear of a new Al Qaeda
The withdrawal of foreign troops has raised concerns that the country could erupt into a full-scale civil war , providing al Qaeda with a space in which to rebuild and plan new attacks against the United States and other targets.
In his meeting with Ghani at the presidential palace, Blinken assured the Afghan president that “the alliance is changing, but it is lasting.” Later, he warned the Taliban that any attack on US troops while they were withdrawing would be met with “a very strong response.”
Blinken also met with Abdullah Abdullah , the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan, who expressed support for the US decision. “This does not mean the end of relations and cooperation between the two countries. A new chapter of relations and cooperation between the two countries has returned and in this chapter we will continue our cooperation in various fields,” Abdullah said in a statement.
Even while Blinken was visiting Kabul, the Taliban reiterated a call for the “immediate” withdrawal of all foreign forces, accusing Washington of breaching a February 2020 agreement – reached by the Trump Administration – to complete the withdrawal of US troops earlier. May 1.
The Taliban’s statement appeared to make an implicit threat, warning that “in principle” its fighters “would take all necessary countermeasures, so the US side will be responsible for all future consequences.”
They also said that “under no circumstances will they give up” on their goal of establishing a “pure Islamic system”, underscoring a profound difference with Kabul on the type of governmental system that should be established in a peace agreement.
Although the fate of the peace talks remains uncertain, as the Taliban said they will not attend a planned conference in Turkey until all foreign forces leave Afghanistan, Blinken remained hopeful. “We are waiting to see a definitive response from the Taliban on their involvement … The goal is … to accelerate the peace process.” The meeting will be attended by a high level of the international community, “he said.
It may interest you
Some US officials and experts are concerned about the enduring presence in Afghanistan of extremists Al Qaeda and the Islamic State , fearing that the former may rebuild and plot new attacks on Western targets. Speaking to CNN, Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan , admitted that the US withdrawal would mean a reduction in intelligence services.
However, he affirmed that they will continue to be able to detect threats to the US from Afghanistan. “In my opinion, our ability to protect the American homeland will not diminish,” Sullivan said.
“Our ability to gather intelligence on a day-to-day basis, against the comings and goings of actors inside Afghanistan, will diminish. That is a big difference.” “From our perspective, we can set the kind of scenario where we can protect this country without staying at war in Afghanistan for the third decade.”
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when they were driven out by US-led forces. Since then, a Washington-backed government has held power in Afghanistan, although the Taliban have control of large parts of the country.