- The Taliban has made major concessions to the US during its peace talks in Afghanistan, but CIA Director Gina Haspel cautioned against complete trust in the group’s promises.
- Concessions include a vow not to allow Afghanistan to become a haven for terrorism and a commitment to work alongside the Afghan government.
- Haspel said that if a peace deal is reached, the US should closely monitor the Taliban and be prepared to “act in our national interest.”
- Her concerns have been echoed by former US ambassador Ryan Crocker, who has said the Taliban will use a US withdrawal to regain control in Afghanistan.
- Even as the Taliban made promises not to harbour terrorists, the group claimed responsibility for an attack that killed dozens in an Afghan military training facility.
In a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, CIA Director Gina Haspel was asked point blank if she trusts the Taliban to uphold promises they made to work with the Afghan government and never allow the country to again be a safe haven for terrorists.
“If there were an eventual peace agreement, a very robust monitoring regime would be critical,” she responded. “We would still need the capability to act in our national interest if we needed to.”
The peace talks, which began January 21, are focused on settling the terms for a complete withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has said that significant progress has been made during the negotiations, according to the Associated Press.
On Wednesday, the Taliban said in a recorded statement to AP that it had no intentions of creating a monopoly on Afghan institutions.
“After the end of the occupation, Afghans should forget their past and tolerate one another and start life like brothers,” Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman said in the statement.
Other major concessions to the US include promises that the group would not allow terrorist groups to plan attacks from Afghanistan, according to the Wall Street Journal.
But Haspel’s comments Tuesday reflect a troubling concern that a complete withdrawal of the 22,000 troops in the US-led coalition will allow the Taliban to regain control – a concern shared by former US ambassador Ryan Crocker.
“You will simply see the Taliban move in and retake the country,” Crocker told Foreign Policy. Even as the peace talks began, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a devastating attack against Afghan forces, giving credence to the concerns over the group’s sincerity.
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