The State Department is evaluating the security of the US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on a “daily basis” as the Taliban is making significant territorial gains in the country, a spokesman said Tuesday. The security of the facility is vital for Washington’s post-withdrawal plans.
“Obviously it is a challenging security environment … We are evaluating the threat environment on a daily basis,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters. “The embassy is in regular contact with Washington, with the most senior people in this building, who in turn are in regular contact with our colleagues at the NSC, at the White House.”
President Biden says his Afghanistan withdrawal will be completed by August 31st, but the US has plans to keep a contingent of around 650 troops at the embassy. The Pentagon has also established a new military command structure that will be based out of the embassy, a sign that the US has plans to continue its occupation of Afghanistan to some degree.
The US has also been negotiating a plan for Turkey to keep troops at the international airport in Kabul to secure it so US personnel can travel in and out of the country. While Turkey has agreed to the idea, it doesn’t appear that a plan is finalized. On August 7th, Turkey’s defense minister said Turkey is willing to guard the airport if its “conditions are met.”
At this point, what Washington’s footprint will look like in Afghanistan after August 31st is not clear. The Taliban is a long way from moving to take Kabul, but the group is making quick work of other cities, capturing eight provincial capitals in just five days. While the US seems desperate to maintain some sort of military presence in Afghanistan, it’s possible the security situation deteriorates enough that Washington is forced to exit the country entirely.