Former envoy: U.S. 'did not succeed' in building democratic Afghanistan

Former envoy: U.S. 'did not succeed' in building democratic Afghanistan
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The former special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation said on Sunday that the U.S. “did not succeed” in building a democratic Afghanistan after two decades spent fighting in the country.

“I think with regard to terrorism, we largely have achieved that objective. On the issue of building a democratic Afghanistan - I think that - that did not succeed. The struggle goes on,” Zalmay Khalilzad told CBS’ Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation.”

“The Talibs are a reality of Afghanistan. We did not defeat them. In fact, they were making progress on the battlefield even as we were negotiating with them. And the reason we negotiated with them was because militarily things were not going as well as we would have liked. We were losing ground each year,” the former U.S. envoy to Afghanistan lamented.

Khalilzad explained that in order for the U.S. to reverse the progress that the Taliban was making in Afghanistan, it was “going to require a lot more effort.”

Khalilzad’s remarks come less than a week since he resigned from his post as the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation. During his first television interview since his resignation, he said he would have liked to have seen a negotiated settlement before the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan.

He explained the U.S. had spoken with the Taliban and that they had a “set of agreements” with them, including some of which that have not been publicly disclosed. 

Khalilzad explained that while Americans may not be pleased with how evacuation out of Afghanistan was handled, he believed they should at least be relieved that the Afghanistan war had ended. 

“The burden has been reduced, that we achieved the goal of the devastating Al Qaeda in Afghanistan,” he said. 

The Biden administration was heavily criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for a messy and chaotic exit out of the country that culminated with a suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members. President BidenJoe BidenPharma lobby eyes parliamentarian Demand for US workers reaches historic high Biden to award Medal of Honor to three soldiers who fought in Iraq, Afghanistan: report MORE said he had no regrets on leaving the country and that no amount of time would have been enough to change what ultimately became the outcome. 

The U.S. continues to evacuate Americans and others from the country, though Khalilzad conceded he was unsure of how many Americans were still left in Afghanistan.

"I think it's very likely that it'll be in hundreds, but we don't know. The truth of the matter is, we don't know," he said.