U.S. intelligence officials say Afghanistan’s government could collapse in just six months if the United States completely withdraws its military from the country, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The report comes amid recent Taliban wins in Afghanistan.
Last week, Taliban forces killed or captured about 100 Afghan soldiers in the city of Kunduz. The Journal notes that Afghan forces have surrendered to the Taliban multiple times in the last few days and abandoned large numbers of vehicles and weapons as a result.
Intelligence analysts and senior military officials in a report completed last week said Afghanistan's government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, could collapse anywhere from six months to one year after the U.S. finishes removing troops. Some officials predicted that the government could fall within three months of the U.S. withdrawal.
“It is a dynamic situation,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Tuesday. “If there needs to be changes made to the pace or to the scope and scale of the retrograde on any given day or in any given week, we want to maintain the flexibility to do that.”
The U.S. withdrawal was scheduled to finish in July, aside from the troops that guard the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
President Joe Biden is set to meet with Ghani on Friday. He is expected to promise Afghanistan economic and humanitarian aid.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told ABC News last Sunday that the Biden administration’s “paramount priority” is to protect the 18,000 Afghan interpreters and other workers who helped the United States in Afghanistan.
Sullivan added that the administration is checking “every week” to see if additional troops are needed at the embassy, but there are “no plans to change” the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
“What we're doing is looking every week to check as the drawdown unfolds whether or not it lines up with our effort to insure that there is a sufficient security presence at the embassy, that the airport will be secure, and we'll do another one of those check-ins this coming week,” he said. “But there have been no plans to change the basic proposition that the president laid down, which is that all American forces will be out, and they will be out well before the deadline that he set forth in his April 16th speech.”
Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., told the Journal that he will release a plan to evacuate up to 20,000 Afghan interpreters and other workers.
“Hope is not a plan, and the administration is putting a lot of weight into hope right now,” he said. “One of the things about Afghanistan is it’s clear by now that we’re not going to win the war, but there are still devastating ways we could lose.”
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