KABUL: Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy to Afghanistan, said that concerns the Taliban would overwhelm Afghan government forces and capture Kabul after US and coalition forces pullout were overblown.
“I personally believe that the statements that their forces will disintegrate and the Talibs will take over in short order are mistaken,”Khalilzad made the statements while briefing the US House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
Khalilzad’s remarks come after the committee members shared their concerns on President Joe Biden’s decision to completely remove all troops by September 11, that probably result in instability and increased civil unrest.
According to the Associated Press, Texas Republican Michael McCaul, a vocal opponent of the withdrawal, believes there is “zero chance” that the Taliban will honor the promises reached by their leaders in a February 2020 deal with the Trump administration, which included participating in long-term peace talks and ending all means of coordination and funding for al-Qaeda.
“It seems all but certain the Taliban will try to overrun the country and return it to a pre-9/11 state after we have withdrawn,” McCaul said.
Khalilzad, on the other hand, said that the Taliban had justification for seeking a political solution rather than military conquest and victory, which would grant them international recognition and exclude them from some US and UN sanctions.
“They say they seek normalcy in terms of relations — acceptability, removal from sanctions, not to remain a pariah,” Khalilzad said.
Meanwhile, regarding the US troops’ withdrawal, he stated that “So far, so good,” adding, “We expect that to continue.”
He also stated that diplomatic attempts and efforts were being made to reach agreements with neighboring countries to place US counterterrorism forces within the striking distance of Afghanistan to respond to potential threats.