Afghanistan’s government could collapse as quickly as six months after all U.S. troops withdraw from the country, according to new analysis from the U.S. intelligence community.
The new assessment, which differs starkly from previous positive analysis, comes after the Taliban made battlefield gains in Afghanistan, including the seizure of a key district in northern Kunduz province this week.
Taliban forces have also besieged Mazar-e-Sharif this week, the provincial capital of Balkh.
The latest intelligence assessment, reported by The Wall Street Journal, said that the Afghan government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, could collapse between six to 12 months after all American forces are pulled from the country.
Some other officials, however, said that the government could fall as soon as three months after the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is finished, the Journal reported.
Previous analysis, the newspaper noted, said that Afghanistan’s government could stand for as long as two years after the American troops leave.
President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE is scheduled to meet with Ghani at the White House on Friday.
The Taliban on Wednesday touted their “manifest victory and triumph” in a statement, writing that their territorial gains “will be the beginning of the end of the ills birthed by occupation,” according to the Journal.
The U.S. has already removed more than half of its 3,500 troops from the region and its equipment. The remaining troops are scheduled to leave by Sept. 11, the deadline set by Biden in April.
The military’s plan included pulling all forces from the country as soon as July, except U.S. troops who are responsible for protecting the American Embassy in Kabul.
White House officials, according to the newspaper, are now encouraging the military to slow the pace of the U.S.’s troop withdrawal, amid the reports of the Taliban’s advancements in the region.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on Tuesday reiterated the department’s plans to withdraw all troops, other than the ones left to “protect the diplomatic presence,” by Sept. 11.
He did, however, in response to questions about the Taliban’s gains, say the Pentagon wants to “maintain the flexibility” to alter the pace, scope or scale of the withdrawal.
“It is a dynamic situation and we said from the outset that we're going to treat it as such, in that the — that — if there need to be changes made to the pace or to the scope and scale of the retrograde on any given day or in any given week, we want to maintain the flexibility to do that,” Kirby said at a press conference.
The Pentagon, in an email to The Hill, said “We have nothing to add.”