Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates believes there is a “real risk” that if American troops are pulled out of Afghanistan, the Taliban might retake control of the country. He told CBS “Face the Nation” in an interview that the U.S. should ensure that the Afghan government is stable before bringing American forces home. There are currently 12,000 U.S. service members stationed there.
“I think that the circumstances under which you bring them home matter. And I think trying to give the Afghan government the best possible shot at survival is really important for the future of Afghanistan,” Gates told Brennan. He outlined potential consequences of the Taliban retaking control of the country, particularly the reduction of women’s rights.
The 2001 U.S.-led invasion helped women secure fragile freedoms under a new constitution, which was crafted after the Taliban was ousted from power along with its brutal interpretation of Islamic law. Recently the Taliban has said it will now allow women to attend school and hold jobs.
“So the question is, can you negotiate an arrangement whereby the Taliban agrees to operate under the Afghan Constitution, becomes a part of the political process?” Gates asked.
When asked by Brennan if the Taliban has interest in joining such a government or if it just wants to rule the country itself, Gates acknowledged that the Taliban wants to “take over Afghanistan.”
“If they agree to any kind of a compromise deal, it’s really up to the other Afghans at the end of the day to- to resist any moves, to get rid of those changes, to go backward, if you will,” Gates continued.
These remarks come just after US announced that it would move $1.5 billion designated for the war in Afghanistan to build a border wall between US and Mexico.