Blinken Is Grilled on Afghanistan in Congress

The Taliban has agreed to refuse refuge to terrorist teams as a situation of the U.S. army withdrawal, which the Trump administration brokered in February 2020. However it’s extensively believed that Al Qaeda’s most senior chief, Ayman al-Zawahri, resides in Afghanistan, and high C.I.A. officers, together with William J. Burns, the company’s director, have acknowledged that their skill to collect info on terrorist exercise there’s now diminished.

Forward of Mr. Blinken’s testimony, the Biden administration’s high intelligence official mentioned Afghanistan was not probably the most urgent terrorism risk for america, even after the Taliban’s takeover. Avril D. Haines, the director of nationwide intelligence, mentioned the withdrawal of American troops and the collapse of the U.S.-backed authorities have created challenges for gathering intelligence within the nation.

However, she mentioned, “by way of the homeland, the risk proper now from terrorist teams, we don’t prioritize on the high of the checklist Afghanistan.”

Her feedback underscored a tenet of Mr. Biden’s determination to go away: that the enduring battle in Afghanistan had change into a distraction from extra rapid threats to america, like China, Russia, local weather change and the coronavirus.

Provided that technique, the general determination to withdraw from Afghanistan “made good sense,” mentioned James F. Jeffrey, a former ambassador who labored carefully with Mr. Blinken and different senior officers through the Obama administration and is now chair of the Center East Program on the Wilson Heart, a assume tank in Washington.

However, Mr. Jeffrey mentioned, “the preparations for this factor, and the failure of creativeness on how briskly it could occur and the way full the collapse — that’s an issue that it’s a must to level to the administration on.”

The diplomatic effort that Mr. Blinken vowed would proceed largely focuses on pressuring the Taliban to make sure protected passage for individuals who need to go away Afghanistan, and to guard Afghan ladies and ladies who have been denied educations and jobs, and in worst instances, brutalized, when the Taliban final dominated, from l996 to 2001. On Monday, he acknowledged that the Taliban had fallen “very in need of the mark” in making a authorities that features ladies or ethnic minorities, as many international locations have demanded.

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