Senate Armed Services chair: ‘I think Kabul will hold’
Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.) on Sunday said he believes Kabul will hold against the Taliban’s advances as the U.S. nears a full withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The Taliban has swiftly taken over much of Afghanistan’s territory since U.S. and NATO forces began withdrawing, with the military organization recently claiming to have taken 85 percent of the country.
“I think Kabul will hold,” Reed told host Chuck Todd on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” “The question is, can it hold long enough to create a political solution between the sides? What is — what you’ve seen is the encroachment of the Taliban, most of that has been without military action, most of that has been essentially going in and persuading or paying off the local leadership and, and they’ve been preparing for that for many, many months.”
Todd asked Reed if he thought the peace agreement that the Trump administration signed with the Taliban last year in Qatar was a mistake.
“I think it was, because I think it set a fixed date, rather than imposing conditions that would have then let us depart Afghanistan,” Reed said. “And it also — most of the conditions on, the Taliban were unenforceable. They claimed that they would disassociate themselves from al Qaeda, clearly that’s not the case.”
The Taliban leadership has said it is still open and committed to a peace agreement with Afghanistan’s government though it has yet to provide a written proposal. Last week, peace talks between Afghanistan and the Taliban were hosted in Iran, with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif calling the talks “cordial & substantive.”
Honored to be host of cordial & substantive dialog between senior Afghan reps.
As foreign forces leave Afghanistan, no impediment remains for Afghans of all political stripes to chart a peaceful & prosperous future for the next generation.
Iran stands with our Afghan brethren. pic.twitter.com/nABlJfdXaP
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 7, 2021
While the Pentagon has acknowledged a “deteriorating security situation” in Afghanistan, both Defense officials and President Biden last week rejected the idea that a Taliban takeover of the country is inevitable.
Biden said Thursday the Afghan army is as “well equipped as any army in the world” to fend off the Taliban.
“The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely,” Biden said.
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