Less than two months after the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan and amid the reports that US State Department will probe the hasty and chaotic evacuation from Kabul, the top US envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has resigned his post, Reuters reports.
As Donald Trump’s appointee with long ties to hawkish neocon groups, Khalilzad played a major role in inking the February 2020 Doha deal which committed US forces to a full-on withdrawal, helping to end the longest war in US history.
He gave no specific reason for his resignation apart pointing in his resignation letter dated October 18 that the US is entering a new phase in its Afghanistan policy, but he announced plans to “contribute to the discussion” about the US’ objectives going forward.
Khalilzad noted in his letter, among other things, that the implementation of the long hoped-for political agreements between the Afghan leadership and the Taliban movement worked out with his direct involvement did not go as planned despite their efforts.
He explained that the reasons for that are too complex and said he’ll share his thoughts on that after leaving government service.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Khalilzad’s resignation on Monday, pointing that he will be replaced by his deputy Thomas West, who previously served on Obama’s national security team, that will now lead diplomatic efforts with the new Taliban-led government in Afghanistan.
Blinken also offered no reason for Khalilzad’s decision to resign.
Khalilzad’s resignation followed the reports that the State Department’s inspector general Diana Shaw would launch a series of investigations into the Biden administration’s pullout from Afghanistan, focusing on the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, the processing of Afghans refugees and their resettlement as well as the chaotic evacuation from the US Embassy in Kabul.
According to Politico, at least three reviews are also underway at the Pentagon’s own IG office focused on the botched August 29 drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 Afghan civilians, the military’s screening process for new Afghan arrivals and Pentagon support for refugee relocation efforts.
Several other reviews have been launched by congressional panels with regard to the withdrawal while the primary watchdog for the war, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko may also launch a separate investigation.