US Orders Embassy Staff To Leave Kabul As They Begin Withdrawal | Conflict News

The order came two weeks after President Biden announced that US troops would leave the country by September.

The United States has ordered non-essential personnel to leave their embassy in Kabul, citing increased threats as Washington prepares to end its 20-year war in Afghanistan.

The order came two weeks after President Joe Biden announced that US troops, currently around 2,500, would leave the country by September.

Meanwhile, Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s special envoy to Afghanistan, warned during a Senate hearing that US aid could be cut if a Taliban-dominated government failed to respect human rights.

The State Department said in a travel advisory that it had “ordered the departure from the US embassy in Kabul of US government employees whose duties may be performed elsewhere.”

Ross Wilson, the acting US ambassador to Kabul, said the State Department made the decision “in light of increasing violence and reports of threats in Kabul.”

He said the order affected an unspecified “relatively small number” of employees and that the embassy would remain operational.

“The personnel urgently needed to address the issues surrounding the withdrawal of US forces and the vital work we are doing in support of the Afghan people will be able to remain in place,” Wilson wrote on Twitter.

General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Central Command, said on Tuesday that the administration remains committed to maintaining a functional embassy in Kabul.

“We intend to maintain an embassy in Afghanistan in the future. But we’ll have a very, very minimal military presence there – one that’s strictly necessary to defend the embassy, ​​”he said in remarks to the American Enterprise Institute.

Taliban want “to end their pariah status”

Earlier this month, Biden said he would withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the attacks that led the United States to invade and overthrow the Taliban regime that had hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Biden concluded that US forces had achieved their goals and could do little more, but US officials have made no secret of their fears the violence will escalate as the Taliban perceive they have achieved victory.

The State Department’s advice, which also reiterated warnings for Americans not to surrender, said “terrorist and insurgent groups continue to plan and execute attacks in Afghanistan.”

In a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Khalilzad, who has overseen negotiations with the Taliban rebels for the past few years, said the United States could capitalize on its hundreds of millions of dollars. help the country to put pressure on them to respect human rights, especially for women.

“The talibés say they are interested in not being outcasts,” he told the panel.

“We said if they want help from the United States, if they want international acceptance, they want to end their outcast status… these things will all be affected by how they treat their own citizens. – in the first place, Afghan women, children and minorities. “

“I have personally made it very clear that the issue of human rights, in particular the rights of women, comes after terrorism in terms of a hierarchy of American political importance,” he said.

He added that if the Taliban take power militarily from the government in Kabul, they will have little international support.

“They will face isolation, regional opposition, sanctions and international stigma,” he said.

“There is a remarkable consensus within the region and the international community against a military takeover by the Taliban. “