After almost 20 years of disastrous war, US officials somehow hold the view that they have been a stabilizing force in Afghanistan while regional countries have done little to help.
In an interview on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it’s time for those regional countries, which he called “free riders,” to concentrate on preventing a civil war in Afghanistan.
“No one has an interest in renewed civil war in Afghanistan, certainly the Afghan people don’t. Neither the Afghan government or the Taliban do, none of Afghanistan’s neighbors do, neighbors and other countries in the region that have basically been free riders for the last 20 years, as we’ve been engaged there with our NATO allies and partners,” Blinken told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Blinken said Afghanistan’s neighbors are “are now going to have to decide, given their interests in a relatively stable Afghanistan, given the influence that they have, whether they’re going to try to use that influence in a way that keeps things within the 40-yard lines.” He added, “So a lot of people are having their minds concentrated by the President’s decision.”
The White House said on Thursday that the Afghanistan withdrawal has officially begun. While President Biden says he plans to withdraw all troops by September 11th, the US will still support the Afghan military financially and possibly keep contractors in the country. There will also almost certainly be a continued CIA presence and possibly even special operations forces.
“We are not disengaging from Afghanistan, we’re remaining deeply engaged in the diplomacy in support for the Afghan government and its people, development, economic assistance humanitarian assistance, support for the security forces,” Blinken said.