US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that no one can offer guarantees about Afghanistan's future after US troops leave, but he stressed that the United States would stay focused on terrorist threats emanating from the country.
This comes as US President Joe Biden announced last week that the United States will withdraw its remaining 2,500 troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11.
According to a Reuters report, Sullivan was asked on the Fox News Sunday program about the risk of a repeat of what happened in Iraq, where Daesh militants seized territory after US troops withdrew in 2011. That led then-President Barack Obama to send troops back into Iraq.
Sullivan said Biden had no intention of sending American forces back to Afghanistan, but he added: "I can't make any guarantees about what will happen inside the country. No one can."
"All the United States could do is provide the Afghan security forces, the Afghan government and the Afghan people resources and capabilities, training and equipping their forces, providing assistance to their government. We have done that and now it is time for American troops to come home and the Afghan people to step up to defend their own country," Sullivan said as quoted in Reuters report.
President Ashraf Ghani rejected what he said were "false analogies" with the war in Vietnam as well as any suggestion his government was at risk of collapse after US troops leave.
He said Afghan security forces were capable of defending the country.
"The Afghan defense and security forces have been carrying over 90% of the operations in the last two years," Ghani said in an interview with CNN.
Ghani said that Afghans can defend their villages and districts as he addressed an online event on Thursday.
Facing pressure from Afghanistan’s allies to participate in the upcoming Turkey conference, the Taliban told TOLOnews it will not attend any event, including the Istanbul summit, unless there is a change in the timeline for the withdrawal of US forces from the country.
However, all other parties to the conflict are ready to attend the conference that is scheduled to be held on April 24.
“We will review all affairs after the announcement of a change from the US about the timeline for withdrawal of foreign forces,” Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem told TOLOnews, referring to their willingness to attend the summit.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in a phone conversation with his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Haneef Atmar, said his country supports reconciliation in Afghanistan and progress in the peace process, in Istanbul.
“I look forward to meeting FM Atmar at Istanbul Conference and to hosting him in Pakistan soon after to discuss a way forward post conference,” he said in a tweet.
“We are ready for participation at the Istanbul conference,” said Fraidoon Khwazoon, spokesman for the reconciliation council.
Sources close to the Taliban said that the group is facing mounting pressure from the international community to attend the Turkey conference in order to move peace efforts forward.
Afghan politicians hope that the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban will achieve a political agreement on peace ahead of the announced date for the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan, predicting that an otherwise scenario will not be in the country’s favor.
Former mujahideen leader Mohammad Ismail Khan said that the remaining five months for the full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan should be used as an opportunity for peace in the country, not for fueling war.
He warned that Afghanistan will be plunged into another civil war if both sides refrain from entering meaningful talks.
Khan, who addressed a gathering of his supporters in Herat--most of whom were armed--said peace is the first choice, but reiterated that the people are ready to fight as well.
Other political figures, including presidential adviser Mohammad Mohaqiq and Ahmad Massoud, son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, have also warned of a civil war after the US forces withdrawal if the situation is not managed well.
“A complete civil war can be expected after the withdrawal of foreign forces,” Mohaqiq said.
“The war will be more complicated than the past and more intensive--more bloody than the past,” Massoud said.
The Afghan government said that the Taliban is not taking the peace efforts seriously.
But a Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that achieving a peace deal after the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan is one of the priorities of the group but added that the Taliban will select the military option if the efforts could not get the expected outcome.