On Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured that even though US troops are leaving Afghanistan, the US is not “withdrawing” or “disengaging” from the country.
“But we’ve also been clear that even as our forces are drawing down and pulling out of Afghanistan, we are not withdrawing, we are not disengaging,” Blinken said at a joint press conference with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in London.
“We intend to be very active diplomatically in terms of trying to advance negotiations and a political settlement between the Government of Afghanistan, the Taliban, and other key parties,” he said.
Blinken also said that the US will continue to support the Afghan military, something Pentagon officials have been stressing. “We intend to sustain our assistance to Afghanistan, including development, economic, humanitarian; our support for Afghanistan’s security forces as well,” Blinken said.
To continue supporting the Afghan military, the US will likely need to keep paying for contractors who maintain their equipment. Last week, the Pentagon said it was reviewing the “contractual needs” of the Afghan military.
The US is also hoping to maintain the ability to bomb Afghanistan after it pulls troops out. Pentagon officials are eyeing repositioning forces in neighboring Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, although the US currently has no basing agreements with these countries.
There’s a chance that the US tries to keep a small troops presence under the guise of protecting its diplomatic mission in Afghanistan, and there will undoubtedly be some sort of CIA presence in the country.
On Tuesday, US Central Command said the US has completed about two to six percent of the withdrawal process. President Biden set September 11th as the deadline to get troops out, but a report from Tolo News said the US is in talks with the Taliban to get out by July.