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Afghanistan Wrap: Taliban makes a promise as Blinken faces new questions

Sep 14, 2021


In his first news conference since the Taliban formed its new cabinet for Afghanistan last week, Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mutaqi said the Taliban remain committed to a promise made last year. That promise: the group will not allow militants to use Afghanistan to launch attacks on foreign countries.

“According to our promises, messages and statements, Afghan soil won’t be used against anyone,” Muttaqi said Tuesday. He also gave the first confirmation of the new Cabinet’s promise to honor a deal the Taliban reached with the United States last year.

Under the deal, the Taliban made a promise to break ties with al-Qaida and other militant groups.

Muttaqi’s comments come as countries around the world are waiting and watching to see how the Taliban will govern Afghanistan after the United States completed its withdrawal from the country. The U.S. and its allies have pushed the Taliban to not bring back the harsh rule last seen in the 1990s.

“We want a positive relationship with the international community,” Muttaqi said. “We want a bilateral relationship, we want a good relationship.”

However, he warned other countries to not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.

“We ask them that they shouldn’t bring Afghans under pressure,” Muttaqi said. “Pressure policy didn’t work in the last 20 years and it won’t work in the future.”

Muttaqi’s comments come at odds with new U.S. intelligence. According to said intelligence, al-Qaida may be only a year or two away from getting itself back in Afghanistan, posing a threat to the U.S.

Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, who leads the Defense Intelligence Agency, gave the one-to-two-year estimate while speaking at the Intelligence & National Security Summit.

His one-to-two-year estimate came as Secretary of State Antony Blinken spent the second straight day testifying in front of Congress, this time in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The video above highlights excerpts of his testimony.

Meanwhile, Central Intelligence Agency Deputy Director David Cohen said the U.S. already had detected “some of the indications of some potential movement of al-Qaida to Afghanistan.”


Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State: “We will soon appoint, at my direction, a senior official responsible for focusing and marshaling all of our efforts on support for women and girls and minorities in Afghanistan. I think it’s very important that we have a focal point in the U.S. government at the State Department, whose responsibility is to carry forward this agenda, working closely with you in the in the weeks and months ahead.”

“And I think to your point, we collectively over 20 years invested extraordinary amounts in those security forces and in that government, hundreds of billions of dollars, equipment, training, advice, support. And based on that, as well as based on what we were looking at real time, again, we did not see this collapse in a matter of 11 days. But it is important that we go back and look at all of this.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, (R) Florida: “The fact of the matter is where it leaves us now, on top of all the other things that have been mentioned here from a geopolitical perspective is not a good place. I think China and Russia and Iran, they look at this botched withdrawl and what they see as incompetence that they think they might be able to exploit, may lead to miscalculation.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, (D) New Hampshire: “There were a few Republicans in the Senate who blocked us year after year from getting more SIV applicants to the United States. And I want to know where that outrage was during the negotiations by the Trump administration and former Secretary Pompeo when they were giving away the rights of women and girls. And when Secretary Pompeo came before this committee and blew off questions about what they were doing to pressure the Taliban to have women at the negotiating table for that peace treaty. So I think there is a lot of regret and a lot of recriminations to go around.”