Pompeo Afghan aid cut, US threatening $1 billion.
The US government on Monday announced an immediate reduction of its assistance by $1 billion this year because of the Afghan leaders’ failure to agree on an inclusive government.
This comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 7-hour visit to Kabul on Monday where he met with President Ashraf Ghani and his political opponent Abdullah Abdullah, separately, and in a joint meeting. But the meetings ended without a result.
The US State Department in a statement said the United States deeply regrets that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have informed Secretary Pompeo that they have been unable to agree on an inclusive government that can meet the challenges of governance, peace, and security, and provide for the health and welfare of Afghan citizens.
The statement said that “the United States is disappointed in them (Ghani and Abdullah) and what their conduct means for Afghanistan and our shared interests. Their failure has harmed US-Afghan relations and, sadly, dishonors those Afghan, Americans, and Coalition partners who have sacrificed their lives and treasure in the struggle to build a new future for this country.”
“Because this leadership failure poses a direct threat to US national interests, effective immediately, the US government will initiate a review of the scope of our cooperation with Afghanistan,” the statement said. “Among other steps, we are today announcing a responsible adjustment to our spending in Afghanistan and immediately reducing assistance by $1 billion this year. We are prepared to reduce by another $1 billion in 2021.”
The statement said that the US will also initiate a review of all of its programs and projects to identify additional reductions, and reconsider our pledges to future donor conferences for Afghanistan.
“We have made clear to the leadership that we will not back security operations that are politically motivated, nor support political leaders who order such operations or those who advocate for or support parallel government,” the statement said.
The statement has also mentioned that “Afghan leaders are acting inconsistently with their commitments under the Joint Declaration, chiefly failing to establish an inclusive national team to participate in intra-Afghan negotiations or take practical steps to facilitate prisoner releases by both sides as a confidence-building measure to reach a political settlement and achieve a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.”
The statement says that the US is proceeding with the conditions-based withdrawal of its forces in accordance with the US-Taliban agreement.
The statement, however, offers another opportunity for Afghan leaders to end their rift and says “should Afghan leaders choose to form an inclusive government that can provide security and participate in the peace process, the United States is prepared to support these efforts and revisit the reviews initiated today.”