The New York Times reported that the rapid withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan prompted the Central Intelligence Agency “CIA” (CIA) to search for alternatives to maintain intelligence-gathering operations.
The American newspaper added that officials are making efforts to secure bases near Afghanistan, and that Pakistan is one of the options offered to host a US base.
She also said that the Pakistani authorities required their prior approval of any target that the CIA or the US military would like to strike inside Afghanistan.
The newspaper revealed that US diplomats are exploring the option of returning to bases in former Soviet republics, despite their expectation of strong opposition from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The New York Times quoted pessimistic military reports about the situation in Afghanistan, highlighting the gains made by the Taliban, warning that Kabul could fall into the hands of the Taliban within years and “return to a safe haven for militants bent on striking the West.”
Speaking to the newspaper, former CIA chief Douglas London said there was potential for the agency to rely on a “stay behind” network of informants in Afghanistan who would gather intelligence on the Taliban, al-Qaeda and others.
“Without a large, real presence (there) examining intelligence will be a challenge,” he added.
As a result, US officials argue that there should be a “long-term” intelligence-gathering presence in Afghanistan long after President Joe Biden’s deadline for troops to leave that country.
The scramble for bases illustrates how US officials still lack a long-term plan to address security in a country where they have spent trillions of dollars and lost more than 2,400 soldiers over nearly two decades.