An Afghan civil war or Taliban takeover is “certainly a possible scenario” when the United States withdraws all its soldiers from the country by September 11, Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted to CNN.
He insisted, however, that the US is “not disengaging from Afghanistan” and will continue to be “deeply engaged” in backing the nation, adding that the Biden administration is “planning for every scenario” that could result from the move.
President Joe Biden announced earlier this month that the US would begin pulling out its remaining 2,500 troops by May 1, the date former President Donald Trump set as a full withdrawal, and conclude the action by September 11 - the 20-year anniversary of Al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks, after which then-President George W. Bush invaded the country in a bid to flush out 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden and other key Al Qaeda terrorists, according to the Daily Mail.
Biden's decision, however, appears to be against the advice of top Pentagon officials and some of the president's closest advisers, as well as being criticized by congressmen from both parties.
Blinken addressed these concerns, telling CNN that “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 stressed that "We're remaining deeply engaged in the diplomacy, in support for the Afghan government and its people, development, economic assistance humanitarian assistance, support for the security forces.”
He added that "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 also insisted that the Biden administration is working to ensure Afghan locals who “put their lives on the line” working with US soldiers and diplomats over the last two decades can apply to be expedited to the United States if they are fearful for their lives after the withdrawal.
"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," he said.
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