US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan will concentrate the minds of “free riders” in the region about their interests in keeping the country stable.
Asked by CNN about the possibility of a vacuum that leads to civil war or another Taliban takeover, Blinken said it is “certainly a possible scenario.”
He, however, added that “no one has an interest in renewed civil war in Afghanistan, certainly the Afghan people don’t. Neither the Afghan government or the Taliban do, none of Afghanistan’s neighbors do, neighbors and other countries in the region that have basically been free riders for the last 20 years, as we’ve been engaged there with our NATO allies and partners.”
Those countries “are now going to have to decide, given their interests in a relatively stable Afghanistan, given the influence that they have, whether they’re going to try to use that influence in a way that keeps things within the 40-yard lines,” Blinken said. “So a lot of people are having their minds concentrated by the President’s decision.”
Blinken emphasized that even as the US is withdrawing its troops, “we are not disengaging from Afghanistan, we’re remaining deeply engaged in the diplomacy in support for the Afghan government and its people, development, economic assistance humanitarian assistance, support for the security forces.”