Criticized U.S. Special Envoy on Afghanistan resigns
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Brinken said on the 18th that Zalmai Khalilzad, the U.S. government’s special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, has submitted his resignation and will step down this week.
Brinken said in a statement that Khalilzad will be succeeded by his deputy Thomas West, who will work closely with the US Embassy in Afghanistan that will move to Doha, the capital of Qatar.
An unnamed person familiar with the matter told Reuters that Khalilzad submitted his resignation to Brinken on the 15th.
Khalilzad said in this letter of resignation that the U.S. policy towards Afghanistan has entered a new phase, and the timing of his resignation is right at this time. The political situation in Afghanistan is changing faster than expected. “The reasons are complicated. I will share my views (on this matter) within a few days or weeks after leaving office.”
According to CNN, after Joseph Biden was elected President of the United States, West served as the general counsel for Afghanistan policy in the presidential transition team. Earlier this month, senior representatives of the United States and the Taliban held their first meeting since the Taliban seized power in Doha. West attended and Khalilzad was absent, sparking speculation.
The Associated Press reported that Khalilzad originally planned to resign in May, but then accepted the Biden administration’s request to stay.
Khalilzad is 70 years old and was born in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. He served as the US ambassador to Iraq and permanent representative to the United Nations. In 2018, he was appointed as the special envoy for Afghanistan by the Donald Trump administration.
He presided over the negotiations between the United States and the Taliban, which prompted the two sides to reach an agreement on the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in February last year, which was criticized for this. Some people criticized the negotiations for being too hasty and that the agreement was not fully planned.
Several unnamed American officials told Reuters that the United States is facing one of the biggest diplomatic failures since the end of the Cold War in Afghanistan, and Khalilzad is the “representative” responsible for this result.
The United States launched the war in Afghanistan in the name of anti-terrorism in October 2001 and overthrew the Taliban regime. In February 2020, it signed an agreement with the Taliban, promising to withdraw completely from Afghanistan before May 1 this year. After the current President Bibi took office, he postponed the final withdrawal of the US military until the end of August. The Taliban took control of the capital Kabul on August 15 and the United States subsequently hurriedly withdrew from Afghanistan. On the evening of August 30th, a US military transport plane left Kabul carrying the last batch of US soldiers. Many US and foreign media believed that the US had ended the war in Afghanistan that had lasted nearly 20 years in the form of a “rout”. (End) (Xinhua News Agency Special Feature)
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