The US envoy to Afghanistan resigns

“Tomorrow, I will step down from my position as the Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation. I decided that now is the right time to do so at a time when we are entering a new phase in our Afghanistan policy,” he wrote.

While defending his term of office, he admits that “the political arrangement between the Afghan government and the Taliban did not move forward as expected. The reasons for this are too complex and I will share my thoughts in the coming days and weeks.”

“Going forward, I plan to contribute to the discussion and debate about not only what happened, but what needs to be done thereafter,” he continued.

The veteran diplomat, who served under both Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden as the Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, held talks with the Taliban in Qatar, resulting in the Trump administration’s agreement to leave the country in May 2021.

The Biden administration kept him going through the transition as he continued to try to coordinate a power-sharing agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

But diplomatic talks broke down after Biden announced in April that the United States would complete its 20-year mission in Afghanistan by 9/11.

Khalilzad was one of the first officials in the Biden administration to admit that the Taliban’s rapid celebration through Afghanistan caught the United States flat.

“It is not surprising that with the reduction or almost complete withdrawal of US forces that were on the side of the Afghan government, they would make some progress,” he told POLITICO in July. “They may have made more progress with the reduction and withdrawal [than] one could have predicted analytically. “

“Their position given the developments in recent weeks is stronger than it was before,” he said. The Taliban captured Kabul on August 15.

The Biden administration’s chaotic departure from Afghanistan was marked by scenes of chaos and a hectic rush to evacuate US citizens and Afghan allies. At Hamid Karzai International Airport, where tens of thousands of people gathered in an attempt to leave the country, a suicide bomber killed 13 US officials. A counterfeit U.S. drone strike in retaliation for the bombing accidentally killed 10 civilians.

It is for that and other reasons that Khalilzad’s harshest critics are happy to see him go. “It’s time for him to stop stealing money from the US government. He’s taking a large part of the blame for the shilling for the Taliban,” said Bill Roggio of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Others, however, were more grateful for his efforts. “Khalilzad came with a lot of knowledge, but also a lot of baggage. His vast experience and connections in Afghanistan were both a blessing and a curse for diplomacy,” said Adam Weinstein of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

The State Department and Pentagon inspectors, as well as several congressional committees, have launched investigations into the end of US operations in Afghanistan.

Nahal Toosi contributed to this report.

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