On June 25, during a state visit by the president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, President Biden pledged to continue to support Afghanistan, assuring the Afghan delegation the United States will “maintain their military, as well as economic and political support.”
Signs of the Taliban reducing violence and committing to genuine and serious peace talks are far from sight, suggests a new report by the U.N. In the report, U.N. experts say that “unprecedented” level of violence from 2020 has carried onto 2021 and is likely to increase more this year. The “continues to strengthen its military position as leverage.”
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared critical of President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. “This is what we call a wicked problem. There are consequences both foreseen and unintended of staying and of leaving,” she told CNN.
In a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing this week, senators from across the political spectrum expressed concerns about the security situation in Afghanistan post-U.S. and NATO withdrawal this year. Committee members repeatedly expressed concerns on U.S. counter-terrorism operations, as well the future of human rights and women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Habiba Sarabi, Fatima Gailani, Sharifa Zurmati Wardak and Fawzia Koofi are the only women negotiators representing the Afghan state in negotiating peace with the Taliban. They urged a premature U.S. exit would “result in state collapse and collapse of institutions.”
Among Afghan women, there is a sense of frustration, disappointment and fear that a rushed peace process that excludes women will not have a long-term outcome—allowing a Taliban comeback that could roll back the progress made over the last two decades.
Since the signing of the peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban in February of 2020, a new chapter of violence has opened in Afghanistan. The nature of violence has changed from mass suicide attacks to unprecedented levels of targeted killings of media workers, journalists, civil servants, members of civil society, NGO workers, health workers and advocates of human rights.
The Biden administration plans to review and assess the Doha agreement, signed by the Trump administration with the Taliban, Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan said. Sullivan also ensured the U.S. support “for protecting the extraordinary gains made by Afghan women, girls and minority groups.”
In his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Antony Blinken promised to protect the hard-won gains of Afghan women and girls if confirmed as secretary of state. He said the Taliban cannot be trusted with U.S. national security, policing Al-Qaeda and ISIS regarding attacking U.S., and that a further withdrawal of U.S. troops will be conditions-based.
Despite several warnings from security experts and allies, including from his own party, Trump is set to further reduce U.S. troops from Afghanistan—from 4,500 to 2,500.