Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, acknowledged on Wednesday that the Taliban asked if the US military wanted to take over security in Kabul as the US-backed Afghan government was collapsing.
McKenzie told the House Armed Services Committee that the Taliban made the offer when he met with Taliban leaders in Doha on August 15th, the same day former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled. McKenzie said the US “did not have the resources to undertake that mission” to secure Kabul.
The offer was first reported by The Washington Post in late August. In mid-September, US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad also confirmed that the Taliban made such an offer. Khalilzad was with McKenzie in Doha, where they met with Abdul Ghani Baradar, who is now the acting deputy prime minister of the new Taliban-led Afghan government.
“We have two options to deal with it: You take responsibility for securing Kabul or you have to allow us to do it,” Baradar told McKenzie, according to the Post. The two sides agreed in the meeting that the US would take the airport to complete the evacuation of US citizens and Afghan allies.
Khalilzad said that before Ghani fled, the US had a last-minute deal with the Taliban to keep them out of Kabul. But Ghani’s sudden departure left a power vacuum in Kabul, causing Afghan security forces to abandon their posts.