Blinken Is Grilled on Afghanistan in Congress


The Taliban has agreed to refuse refuge to terrorist groups as a condition of the U.S. military withdrawal, which the Trump administration brokered in February 2020. But it is widely believed that Al Qaeda’s most senior leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, is living in Afghanistan, and top C.I.A. officials, including William J. Burns, the agency’s director, have acknowledged that their ability to gather information on terrorist activity there is now diminished.

Ahead of Mr. Blinken’s testimony, the Biden administration’s top intelligence official said Afghanistan was not the most pressing terrorism threat for the United States, even after the Taliban’s takeover. Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, said the withdrawal of American troops and the collapse of the U.S.-backed government have created challenges for collecting intelligence in the country.

But, she said, “in terms of the homeland, the threat right now from terrorist groups, we don’t prioritize at the top of the list Afghanistan.”

Her comments underscored a tenet of Mr. Biden’s decision to leave: that the enduring conflict in Afghanistan had become a distraction from more immediate threats to the United States, like China, Russia, climate change and the coronavirus.

Given that strategy, the overall decision to withdraw from Afghanistan “made good sense,” said James F. Jeffrey, a former ambassador who worked closely with Mr. Blinken and other senior officials during the Obama administration and is now chair of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center, a think tank in Washington.

But, Mr. Jeffrey said, “the preparations for this thing, and the failure of imagination on how fast it would happen and how complete the collapse — that’s a problem that you have to point to the administration on.”

The diplomatic effort that Mr. Blinken vowed would continue largely focuses on pressuring the Taliban to ensure safe passage for people who want to leave Afghanistan, and to protect Afghan women and girls who were denied educations and jobs, and in worst cases, brutalized, when the Taliban last ruled, from l996 to 2001. On Monday, he acknowledged that the Taliban had fallen “very short of the mark” in creating a government that includes women or ethnic minorities, as many countries have demanded.



Source link

More from author

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts

Advertismentspot_img

Latest posts

Bank of Ireland chief blames pay cap for CFO’s exit

Bank of Ireland updatesSign up to myFT Daily Digest to be the first to know about Bank of Ireland news. A cap on Irish...

Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #472 – Watts Up With That?

The Week That Was: 2021-09-25 (September 25, 2021)Brought to You by SEPP (www.SEPP.org)The Science and Environmental Policy Project Quote of the Week: “Each piece,...

NSW Covid update: premier ‘confident’ Sydney lockdown will end for vaccinated residents on 11 October | New South Wales

Sydney’s lockdown is set to end for fully vaccinated residents on 11 October, the premier says, when 70% of the adult New South...

Want to stay up to date with the latest news?

We would love to hear from you! Please fill in your details and we will stay in touch. It's that simple!