KABUL: In testimony before US Congress on Tuesday, Joe Biden’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad expressed his confidence in the Afghan government following the proposed withdrawal of US troops.
After President Joe Biden revealed plans to remove all US troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, Khalilzad appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to address concerns from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle regarding the capacity of Afghanistan’s government and military to endure Taliban pressure.
“I do not believe the government is going to collapse or the Taliban is going to take over,” Khalilzad said.
On Monday, the US and its allies started the process of pulling out troops from remote areas in Afghanistan. Nearly 2,500 US troops are now deployed in the country, along with hundreds of special operations forces.
Meanwhile, Senator Bob Menendez, D-N.J., expressed deep concern for Afghan women and said that the manner in which the US withdraws and “what political arrangement is left in our wake” is “extremely important.”
“If the Taliban were to come back to power, the reality for Afghanistan’s women and girls, I think, would be devastating,” Menendez said.
Khalilzad said that future US support for an Afghan government that includes the Taliban would be conditional, which would be jeopardized if human rights violations or other wrongdoing occurred.
“If they do want US assistance, they want international acceptance … those things will all be affected by how they treat their own citizens, first and foremost the women of Afghanistan, children, and minorities,” he said.