U.S. to cut Afghan aid by $1B over political rift that threatens Taliban deal

“The United States is disappointed with them and know what their behavior means for Afghanistan and our common interests,” said Pompeo, adding that “this failure of leadership poses a direct threat to the United States’ national interests.”

The announced cuts in aid may seem tough considering how much Afghanistan still needs US aid since American forces overthrown the Taliban regime after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

But in many ways, the cuts are part of a pattern for President Donald Trump’s government: it relies more on whips than carrots, and it was ready to impose sanctions, tariffs, and other penalties on allies and enemies to prosecute what it says is US interest.

In Trump’s view and a growing, non-partisan crowd in Washington, U.S. interest includes withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan.

Pompeo added that “the US government will initiate a review of the extent of our cooperation with Afghanistan.” Aside from the initial cut in aid by $ 1 billion, “we’re ready to cut another $ 1 billion in 2021,” he said.

Five months after the vote, Ghani was declared the winner of the September presidential election. But Abdullah claimed there was a lot of fraud in the polls and he didn’t want to admit it. Abdullah has started to form a parallel government. He also has the support of some ethnic militia leaders.

“We have made it clear to the leadership that we will not support politically motivated security operations, nor will we support political leaders who order such operations or who advocate or support a parallel government,” said Pompeo.

Afghan officials either could not be reached immediately or did not respond immediately to requests for comments.

Political struggles in Afghanistan have hampered US efforts to implement a peace agreement with the Taliban in late February.

The deal involves the withdrawal of U.S. troops along with the Taliban who meet certain conditions. These conditions include Taliban talks with the Afghan government and keeping the promise not to let terrorist groups use Afghan soil to plan external terrorist attacks.

But Afghan officials, including Ghani, have long been skeptical of US talks with the Taliban and have been frustrated that they have been left out during much of the process. They are particularly upset about provisions in the deal that require the release of around 5,000 Taliban prisoners.

Pompeo accused Ghani and Abdullah of “not establishing an inclusive national team to participate in intra-Afghan negotiations or taking practical steps to facilitate the release of prisoners by both sides as a confidence-building measure to achieve political agreement and a permanent and to achieve a comprehensive ceasefire. ”

He also noted that the US is still “pushing for our armed forces to be withdrawn conditionally under the US-Taliban agreement.”

Pompeo also offered some ointment for the wound, saying that if the Afghan leaders come to a political agreement, the United States could “re-examine today’s reviews.”

He also insisted that the United States not completely abandon its partnership with Kabul, and noted, for example, that it plans to spend $ 15 million to fight the coronavirus pandemic in Afghanistan.

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