Graham: ‘Time will tell’ if US, Taliban deal meets goals

Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of President Trump’s closest allies on foreign policy, said that “time will tell” if Saturday’s deal between the U.S. and the Taliban holds firm. 

The deal, signed by U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban’s political chief, Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday, seeks to end America’s longest war. The U.S. agreed to begin the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, and in return, the Taliban said it will not house terrorists with intentions of attacking the United States on Afghan soil. 

“I am very suspect of the Taliban ever accepting the Afghan constitution and honoring the rights of religious minorities and women,” Graham, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement Saturday. “Time will tell if reconciliation in Afghanistan can be accomplished with honor and security, but after more than 18 years of war, it is time to try.”

The U.S. has been at war with Afghanistan since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which were executed by al Qaeda operatives harbored by the Taliban. Trump’s campaign promise of ending “endless wars” in the Middle East made the deal a top priority going into 2020.

The agreement incrementally reduced the number of United States troops in Afghanistan from 12,000 troops now to 8,600 troops in 135 days. The remaining troops will continue to fight terrorist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda.

“A reduction of U.S. forces to around 8,600 is warranted, given the current situation on the ground,” Graham said. “Any further reductions, however, must be conditions-based and assume that the capabilities of the Afghan security forces are sufficient to protect the Afghan people, the American homeland, and our allies.”

Graham is one of several GOP members who share concerns about the deal. In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper this week, 22 House Republicans led by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) expressed “serious concerns” about the deal and asked for “assurances that you will not place the security of the American people into the hands of the Taliban, and undermine our ally, the current government of Afghanistan.”

Tags Afghan peace process Donald Trump Lindsey Graham Liz Cheney Mark Esper Mike Pompeo Taliban War in Afghanistan

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