US President Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, on Friday said that they are “taking a hard look” at how the Taliban is complying with its agreement with the US before deciding how to proceed.
“That agreement also imposes a set of considerable conditions on the Taliban,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Friday during an event hosted by the United States Institute of Peace. “So what we’re doing right now is taking a hard look at the extent to which the Taliban are in fact complying … and in that context, we will make decisions about our force posture and our diplomatic strategy going forward.”
Sullivan’s apparent skepticism may come as a relief to Afghan officials who fear the diminution of NATO combat capabilities in the country under the terms of the Trump administration’s deal with the Taliban, which sets a May 1 deadline for the complete withdrawal of American forces. The phased drawdown of U.S. troops was offered in exchange for talks between the Taliban and the U.S.-backed central government in Kabul, but violence has surged throughout the negotiating period, stoking the fears of Afghan officials.
“If Taliban realize that they can prevail [through] violence, they will not let go,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said during an Aspen Security Institute event on Friday. “And some of their supporters, unfortunately, are equally in that illusionary world.”
Afghan leaders feel an incentive to retain the immediate support of American troops beyond any point that suits U.S. interests. Some analysts have surmised that Ghani has selfish reasons for undercutting the talks.