KABUL (Pajhwok): Top US envoy to Afghanistan peace talks Zalmay Khalilzad expressed some optimism Tuesday about the ability of Afghan forces to fight the Taliban after all US troops leave, saying he does not believe there will be “imminent collapse” of the Afghan government.
“Some of our analysts are worst-case circumstances on challenges that we confront,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“But I think it would be a mistake in my judgment to dismiss the Afghan security forces as not being a credible force that could perform well, although they will face more difficult circumstances now.”
Khalilzad’s assessment came in his first public testimony since Biden announced earlier this month he was ordering all US troops to be out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, bringing US military participation in America’s longest war to an end.
It also came after the top U.S. general in the Middle East, Gen. Frank McKenzie, gave a grim assessment of the future of Afghanistan after the withdrawal.
In congressional testimony, McKenzie expressed concern about Afghan forces’ ability to hold onto territory without US military support, adding that the Afghan forces “certainly will collapse” if both military and financial support ends.
US officials have insisted financial support will continue even after the withdrawal.
On Tuesday, some senators expressed skepticism about Khalilzad’s more optimistic assessment of the Afghan forces.