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AP interview: Afghan minister warns US towards hasty retreat

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Afghan Inside Minister Masoud Andarabi mentioned on Saturday that Afghan safety forces might maintain their floor even when U.S. troops retreated, disputing a U.S. warning {that a} withdrawal would deliver fast territorial beneficial properties to the Taliban.

Andarabi’s feedback in an interview with The Related Press on Saturday have been the federal government’s first response to the warning from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a clearly worded letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani over the weekend. final finish.

Within the letter urging Ghani to step up his efforts to make peace with the Taliban, Blinken mentioned, “I’m afraid that the safety state of affairs is worsening and that the Taliban might obtain fast territorial beneficial properties” after the withdrawal of the US Military.

Andarabi mentioned Afghan nationwide safety forces might maintain territory, however would probably endure heavy casualties attempting to carry distant checkpoints with out U.S. air assist.

“The Afghan safety forces are absolutely able to defending the capital, the cities and the territories during which we’re at the moment current,” he mentioned. “We consider that the Afghan safety forces have this yr proved to the Taliban that they can’t acquire territory.”

Whereas the Taliban didn’t assault US or NATO forces as a situation of the deal, Afghan nationwide safety forces confronted meteoric assaults.

When questioned on the closely fortified Residence Workplace, Andarabi additionally reiterated his authorities’s warning towards a precipitous US withdrawal from the war-torn nation, saying the Taliban’s ties to Al-Qaida stay intact and {that a} fast withdrawal would worsen world counterterrorism efforts.

He mentioned the Afghan nationwide safety forces backed by US help have up to now strained terrorist teams working in Afghanistan, together with the native Islamic State affiliate.

A hasty withdrawal “not calculated might actually give these terrorists … a possibility to threaten the world,” he mentioned from contained in the compound, protected by explosion-proof concrete partitions, barbed wire and a phalanx of safety guards.

The warning comes as Washington examines a deal the Trump administration struck with the Taliban greater than a yr in the past that requires the withdrawal of the remaining 2,500 US troops by Might 1.

The deal additionally calls on the Taliban to sever ties with terrorist teams, resembling Al-Qaida. U.S. officers have beforehand mentioned progress has been seen, however extra is required, with out giving particulars.

No choice has been made on the evaluate, however US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who’s attempting to revive a stalled peace course of between the federal government and the Taliban armed opposition, has warned the Afghan president that every one choices are nonetheless on the desk and may step up peacemaking efforts.

Since the USA signed the cope with the Taliban, violence has elevated, with poverty and excessive unemployment rising crime. Regardless of billions of {dollars} in worldwide support to Afghanistan because the collapse of the Taliban authorities in 2001, 72% of Afghanistan’s 37 million stay beneath the poverty line, surviving on $ 1.90 or much less a day. Unemployment is round 30 p.c.

Residents of Kabul, the Afghan capital, are terrorized by an uncontrollable crime, bombings and assassinations, and bitterly complain about safety failures.

Andarabi sympathized with residents’ complaints, however mentioned practically 70 p.c of the Afghan police drive are combating the Taliban, undermining efforts to keep up regulation and order. Police face greater than 100 Taliban assaults throughout the nation day by day, he added.

Even the United Nations Safety Council has expressed concern over the focused killings, focusing on civil society activists, journalists, legal professionals and judges. ISIS has taken duty for it, however the Taliban and the federal government blame one another for the surge in assaults.

Throughout a press briefing on Friday, the United Nations Safety Council “referred to as for a right away finish to those focused assaults and careworn the pressing and crucial have to deliver the perpetrators to justice”.

Andarabi mentioned progress has been made in stemming the violence over the previous month, with greater than 400 arrests.

However he careworn that Afghanistan nonetheless wants continued assist from the worldwide group, together with the USA and NATO, in occasions of warfare in addition to in occasions of peace.

For instance, it should take nice efforts to reintegrate right into a peacetime society the tens of 1000’s of armed males who roam the nation – no matter which faction they arrive from, he mentioned. Police face a horrible battle towards narcotics in a rustic that produces greater than 4,000 tonnes of opium __ the uncooked materials used to make heroin __ greater than all different opium producing international locations mixed. Peace, Andarabi mentioned, would enable police to battle the warfare on medication which can also be fueling the hovering crime price in Afghanistan.

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