KABUL: Intelligence experts say that the CIA struggles to put together a new counterterrorism strategy for Afghanistan as US troops withdraw from the war-torn country.
“The CIA is seeking ways to maintain its intelligence-gathering, war-fighting, and counterterrorism operations in the country,” The New York Times reported, citing US intelligence analysts who warned of the “ever-growing risks” of a Taliban takeover.
The report says, “The CIA utilized a base there for years to perform drone strikes against militants in the country’s western mountains, but was thrown out of the facility in 2011 when US relations with Pakistan deteriorated.”
The report stated that discussions were ongoing for building new bases in Afghanistan’s neighborhood, Pakistan.
“In discussions between American and Pakistani officials, the Pakistanis have demanded a variety of restrictions in exchange for the use of a base in the country, and they have effectively required that they sign off on any targets that either the CIA or the military would want to hit inside Afghanistan,” the source quoted US officials as saying.
According to the Times, recent CIA and military intelligence reports on Afghanistan have been “increasingly pessimistic,” highlighting gains by the Taliban and other militant groups in the south and east, and warning that Kabul could fall to the Taliban within years and return to becoming a safe haven for militants bent on striking the West.”
“When the time comes for the US troops to withdraw, the US government’s ability to collect and act on threats will diminish,” the US Intelligence Director William J. Burns told US lawmakers in April, adding, “That is simply a fact.”
“Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has had frequent calls with the Pakistani military chief about getting the country’s help for future US operations in Afghanistan,” the report said.
The US and NATO plan to withdraw all their troops from Afghanistan by September 11.