KABUL: As the US troops leave by September 11, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that Afghanistan could be taken over by the Taliban or devolve into civil war.
Speaking with CNN on Tuesday, Blinken said that when the US withdraws all of its forces from Afghanistan, civil war or Taliban invasion is “certainly a possible scenario.”
The Biden administration is “planning for any situation,” but it also confirmed that the US is “not disengaging from Afghanistan” and will remain “deeply involved” in the country’s assistance long after troops have left.
However, the announcement has polarized sentiment, with some officials and lawmakers fearing that removing troops from Afghanistan so soon would result in Taliban retribution.
“It is tough to imagine a situation that does not result in civil war or a Taliban takeover,” Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN.
Blinken while talking about the future of Afghanistan after US pullout on Tuesday acknowledged that unrest could be a result. He said, “That is certainly a possible scenario.”
Meanwhile, he urged what he described as “free riders” in the region to start using their “influence” to help keep the country stable.
“I do not think ultimately either the Afghan government or the Taliban do, none of Afghanistan’s neighbors do, neighbors and other countries in the region that have basically been free riders for the last 20 years, as we have been engaged there with our NATO allies and partners,” he said.
“Who are now going to have to decide, given their interests in a relatively stable Afghanistan, given the influence that they have, whether they are going to try to use that influence in a way that keeps things within the 40-yard line,” he added.
This comes as a Pakistani delegation during its visit to Kabul has assured the Afghan government of the Taliban’s meaningful presence at the Istanbul summit and its possible agreement on a truce.