The Taliban remains dangerous and is harboring al-Qaida, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley told the panel that when President Joe Biden was inaugurated in January the situation in Afghanistan was at a stalemate with roughly 10,000 U.S. and NATO troops in the nation.
The Trump administration had negotiated the Doha Agreement with the Taliban in Qatar in February 2020. Under the agreement, the United States would begin to withdraw its forces contingent upon the Taliban meeting certain conditions. This would lead to a political agreement between the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan.
“There were seven conditions [in the Doha Agreement] applicable to the Taliban and eight conditions applicable to the United States,” Milley said. “While the Taliban did not attack U.S. forces, which was one of the conditions, it failed to fully honor any, any other condition under the Doha Agreement.
“And perhaps most importantly for U.S. national security, the Taliban has never renounced al-Qaida, or broke its affiliation with them.” Milley said the United States adhered to every condition.
“We provided a broad range of options and our assessment of their potential outcomes [to Team Biden],” he said. “On 14 April, President [Biden] announced his decision, and the U.S. military received a change of mission to retrograde all U.S. military forces.”
Milley said he doesn’t know if the group can consolidate power in the country or if the country will further fracture into civil war. “But we must continue to protect the United States of America and its people from terrorist attacks coming from Afghanistan. A reconstituted al-Qaida or [Islamic State] with aspirations to attack the United States is a very real possibility.”