January 24, 2022

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Zalmay Khalilzad, Biden’s Envoy for Afghanistan, Steps Down

Zalmay Khalilzad, Biden’s Envoy for Afghanistan, Steps Down

WASHINGTON — Zalmay Khalilzad, President Biden’s envoy for Afghanistan and a uncommon Trump appointee to stay within the new administration, is departing from the federal government, the State Division stated on Monday.

Mr. Khalilzad, 70, who was born in Afghanistan and grew up within the capital, Kabul, was a veteran of previous Republican administrations when President Donald J. Trump appointed him in September 2018 to pursue peace negotiations with the Taliban.

He spent a lot of the next 18 months in Doha, Qatar, assembly with Taliban representatives to craft an agreement, signed in February 2020, below which the Trump administration dedicated to the total withdrawal of American troops that Mr. Biden accomplished in August.

To his critics, Mr. Khalilzad enabled a peace course of that was little greater than a fig leaf for Mr. Trump’s dedication to exit Afghanistan swiftly, with little regard for the destiny of its authorities or folks. In latest interviews, Mr. Khalilzad has argued that he didn’t set total U.S. coverage and extracted as many concessions as he might from Taliban leaders.

In an Oct. 18 resignation letter to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, by which he stated he would step down on Tuesday, Mr. Khalilzad stated that he was requested to hitch the Trump administration “after the choice had been made to considerably cut back or finish the navy and financial burden of the Afghan engagement on the U.S. and to free these sources for important priorities, together with home wants and the problem of coping with points associated to China.”

Mr. Khalilzad, who lengthy supported the imaginative and prescient of a extra modernized, pluralistic and democratic Afghanistan, lamented in his letter that “the political association between the Afghan authorities and the Taliban didn’t go ahead as envisaged.”

“The explanations for this are too advanced and I’ll share my ideas within the coming days and weeks, after leaving authorities service,” he wrote.

Because the Taliban stormed by means of the nation in August, capturing metropolis after metropolis, Mr. Khalilzad continued to barter with its leaders, urging them to barter a peaceable political transition and political power-sharing settlement with the Afghan authorities. He was unable to take action earlier than President Ashraf Ghani fled the nation on Aug. 15, saying he feared for his life.

After the Taliban captured Kabul, Mr. Khalilzad helped facilitate secure passage for American civilians and at-risk Afghans. In all, 120,000 folks have been evacuated from the nation.

A naturalized American citizen, Mr. Khalilzad had a lifelong private funding within the nation he first left for america as a highschool alternate pupil. He served as President George W. Bush’s White Home envoy for Afghanistan after which U.S. ambassador, and even as soon as considered seeking the Afghan presidency.

Throughout the 2016 presidential marketing campaign, Mr. Khalilzad launched Mr. Trump earlier than a overseas coverage speech hosted by the Middle for the Nationwide Curiosity, with which Mr. Khalilzad was affiliated, and was rewarded with the Afghanistan envoy put up below Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Many Democrats assumed that Mr. Khalilzad would depart authorities on the finish of the Trump administration, however Mr. Blinken requested him to stay in his job, with the official title of particular envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation.

Mr. Blinken valued Mr. Khalilzad’s deep familiarity with Taliban leaders because the Biden administration continued to barter the phrases of America’s navy exit. Mr. Khalilzad additionally benefited from his relationship with Mr. Biden, whom he hosted throughout visits to Afghanistan when he was ambassador and Mr. Biden a senator.

In a press release on Monday, Mr. Blinken thanked Mr. Khalilzad for his “a long time of service to the American folks.” Mr. Blinken stated that Mr. Khalilzad’s deputy, Tom West, would turn out to be the State Division’s particular consultant for Afghanistan.

Mr. Khalilzad has already begun to ruminate in public on how the U.S. venture in Afghanistan failed so badly.

In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine printed final month, he stated the notion that he made the choice to withdraw all American troops from the nation “boggles the thoughts,” and joked that he was flattered at the concept that he was the mastermind of the U.S. exit.

He stated necessary questions he would ponder included whether or not America’s “ambitions have been too massive in comparison with the technique and sources” and whether or not Washington “ought to have pushed more durable for a political settlement earlier.”

And he finally pointed a finger on the Afghan authorities for failing to come back to phrases with a rising actuality over the previous a number of years.

“I feel that the grand miscalculation of the Afghan management was this: that we weren’t going to depart,” he stated.

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