US envoy to Afghanistan resigns in wake of chaotic withdrawal

Oct 19, 2021: Zalmay Khalilzad, the top US envoy to Afghanistan, is stepping down, the State Department has announced, less than two months after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s occupation of the country.

Khalilzad will be replaced by his deputy, Tom West, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement Monday, adding that the West would work with the US embassy, ​​now based in Doha, on US interests in Afghanistan.

“After the resignation of Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmai Khalilzad, I extend my gratitude to him for his services to the American people,” Blinken said in a statement.

“I thank Ambassador Khalilzad for his services and welcome the Special Representative of the West in his role.” A source close to the matter told Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity that Khalilzad had tendered his resignation on Friday.

His departure comes after the Biden administration withdrew from the first formal talks with the Taliban since the US withdrawal, which took place in Doha in early October.

In a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Khalilzad defended his record but acknowledged that he came short in his role and said he wanted to pave the way for a “new phase in our Afghanistan policy.” “Political arrangements between the Afghan government and the Taliban have not progressed as expected,” he was quoted as saying by AFP. “The reasons are very complex and I will share my thoughts in the coming days and weeks.”

Born in Afghanistan, Khalilzad has held the post since 2018 and led negotiations with the Taliban that led to an agreement to withdraw US troops in February 2020.

Despite his Republican commitment, Khalilzad was retained when Biden defeated Donald Trump and decided to move forward with the withdrawal. It then pressured the hardline militant group and former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s Western-backed government to negotiate a decades-long political solution.

In mid-August, the government fell when the Taliban entered the country and marched unopposed in the capital, Kabul.

Khalilzad was left seeking the help of the Taliban in the US evacuation of US citizens and Afghans working for the US government. Current and former US officials first told Reuters that Khalilzad who had been in the role for three years, became the face of a major US diplomatic failure in recent memory.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, US officials said the veteran US diplomat had stopped gaining ground with the militant group, continued to weaken the Afghan government and was less interested in listening to different views within the US government.

Speaking to Foreign Policy Magazine recently, Khalilzad defended his record, saying the Taliban had fulfilled key parts of the February 2020 agreement, including not attacking US troops on the ground.

I respect those who say we should not have negotiated with the Taliban without the government present. But with no appetite for another troop increase in its longest war in the United States, we don’t know how much more fighting would have taken for the Talibs to agree to that,” he said.

“Time was not on our side.”

Stay tuned to BaaghiTV for latest news and Updates!

Pak Rupee reaches an all-time low against the US Dollar