Tuesday, September 27, 2022

US envoy to Afghanistan resigns after leaving

The State Department said on Monday that the US special envoy for Afghanistan is stepping down after the chaotic withdrawal of Americans from the country.

Zalmay Khalilzad will step down this week after serving over three years under the Trump and Biden administrations. He has been criticized for not pushing the Taliban hard enough in the peace talks begun when Donald Trump was president, but Secretary of State Anthony Blinken thanked him for his work.

“I express my gratitude for his decades of serving the American people,” Blinken said of Khalilzade, who was at the United Nations and Afghanistan after the United States.

Khalilzad originally planned to leave work in May after Biden announced that the US withdrawal would be completed before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in September. However, he was asked to stay, and he did so.

Khalilzad has served as Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation under the Trump and Biden administrations since September 2018, when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo invited him on board to negotiate with the Taliban and the Afghan government.

A native of Afghanistan, Khalilzad was unable to bring the two sides together to reach a power-sharing agreement, but in February 2020, he did negotiate an agreement between the US and the Taliban, ultimately ending America’s longest war.

The deal with the Taliban served as a model for the Biden administration’s withdrawal of all US forces from Afghanistan, which many felt was carried out too quickly and without sufficient planning. Thousands of Afghan citizens who have worked there for the US military over the past two decades have fled, as have hundreds of American citizens and legal residents.

President Joe Biden and his aides often said that the deal negotiated by Khalilzad tied their hands when it came to leaving and led to the sudden takeover of the country by the Taliban, although administration critics noted that Biden had abandoned demands based on “conditions “. for a full US withdrawal.

In an interview and in his resignation letter described by the AP, Khalilzad noted that the agreement he negotiated led to the final withdrawal of US troops to the side of the Taliban, entering into serious peace negotiations with the Afghan government. He also lamented that these negotiations and, as a result, the withdrawal of troops did not go as planned.

Despite criticism, Khalilzad remained at work, although he missed the first summit since the US-Taliban withdrawal in Doha, Qatar earlier this month, prompting rumors that he is leaving. Khalilzad will be succeeded by his deputy Thomas West, who led the US delegation in the latest round of talks in Doha.

However, this week the US will not send a representative to a conference on Afghanistan to be held in Russia, the State Department said. Speaking before Blinken announced Khalilzad’s departure, agency spokesman Ned Price cited “logistics” as the reason for the US refusal to participate in talks in Moscow.

In his resignation letter, Khalilzad said that after leaving government service, he will continue to work on behalf of the Afghan people and will share his thoughts and advice on what went wrong in Afghanistan and what to do next.

Nation World News Desk
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