White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the summit “will highlight the enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan as military withdrawal continues,” while reaffirming “the United States’ commitment to supporting the Afghan people, including supporting Afghan women, girls, and minorities, and ensuring that the country does not become Once again, a safe haven for terrorist groups that pose a threat to the United States.” Read also The Wall Street Journal: Pressure on Washington to delay the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan Beyond the news – How realistic is the American threat to return to Afghanistan? Afghanistan .. Russia warns of civil war after the withdrawal of NATO forces and the US army continues to hand over military bases
Biden’s team seeks to project an optimistic picture of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, especially with the growing opposition within Congress from Republicans and many Democrats to the step of withdrawing from Afghanistan. An article by Michael Rubin, a former official at the US Department of Defense and an expert at the American Enterprise Institute, indicated that Biden would fail in his quest.
On the other hand, Hussain Haqqani – the former Pakistani ambassador to Washington and now an expert at the Hudson Institute – says about President Ghani’s visit, “In light of the decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, President Biden wants to indicate that he has not abandoned Afghanistan.” And Biden will discuss post-withdrawal scenarios with President Ghani, who will most likely request financial and non-financial support for the Afghan forces in their struggle against the Taliban.”
Haqqani adds – to Al Jazeera Net – that “the visit is largely a public relations operation for the White House, which does not want to be criticized for its failure to link the decision to withdraw with any post-withdrawal planning to a fundamental peace process.”
Ambassador Haqqani considers that there is “a small possibility that Ghani will be able to induce Biden to reconsider the decision not to provide air support to the Afghan army during the withdrawal phase.”
The activities of the visit will not be limited to the bilateral meeting at the White House; The Afghan government hired one of Washington’s most important lobby and public relations firm; To help organize President Ashraf Ghani’s meetings – during his visit this week – with senior congressional leaders.
Squire Patton Boggs is arranging meetings in Congress with a number of Republicans and even some Democrats who oppose President Biden’s plans to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan by September 11. Ghani is expected to seek reassurances that Washington will continue to support Afghan security forces and will not abandon the country to the Taliban or other armed groups.
The company said – according to the data of the Ministry of Justice related to the procedures for registration of foreign agents (Fara) – that its efforts include “communicating with various members of Congress, its employees, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations and preparing for President Ashraf Ghani’s upcoming trip to Washington, DC.”
A pessimistic picture of Afghanistan
The Wall Street Journal indicated that a recent US intelligence assessment had warned of the possibility of the Afghan capital, Kabul, falling into the hands of the Taliban within six months following the US withdrawal.
One of the major issues still preoccupying senior congressional leaders is the lack of a mechanism to prevent the planning of attacks against the United States from Afghanistan, without a strong intelligence presence inside Afghanistan. Defense Department officials told Congress last May that they had no plan to gather intelligence after the withdrawal, and that they were still working to reach agreements with neighboring countries to allow overflights or host American forces.
While the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said – during a hearing held yesterday, Wednesday, before the Armed Services Committee in the US House of Representatives – that among the worst possible scenarios after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is the outbreak of a civil war there, the collapse and division of the government, and the division of the army Afghan.
It is unlikely that the “Biden-Ghani” summit at the White House will provide an answer to any of the questions regarding the nature of the possible support Washington may provide to the Afghan government after completing its withdrawal next September. However, some commentators say the meeting is an important sign that Washington will not abandon Afghanistan after the withdrawal process is completed.
“This handshake in the White House between President Biden and President Ghani is very important, and it is a clear display of American support for Ghani’s government,” said Lisa Curtis, the former official in charge of the Afghanistan file at the National Security Council during President Trump’s rule and currently an expert at the Center for a New American Security.
But what that future partnership between the two states looks like remains uncertain in its nature and scope. Commentators expected Ghani and Biden to talk about practical details of continued US aid to Afghanistan, but neither was optimistic that any solutions would be reached or announced this week.
Jason Campbell, a researcher at the RAND Corporation and a former official in charge of Afghanistan in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, believes that there is “a feeling that the United States will remain involved in one way or another in Afghanistan, but the details of that remain absent so far.” Some experts say they hope Ghani can persuade Biden to slow the withdrawal, based on previous assessments.
Andrew Watkins – Afghanistan expert at the International Crisis Group – said in a tweet that “the collapse of the state in Afghanistan means the fall of Ghani’s government. It is unlikely that Ghani will step down voluntarily, so the fall of Ghani’s government may happen if the Taliban take over the capital, Kabul, or that other parties intervene.” Another actor is to expel Ghani by force, and in both cases this is only likely to happen with the collapse of the Afghan army. It won’t happen quickly in 3 to 6 months.”