KABUL – Former Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie, who once commanded the United States Central Command, has voiced concerns about the Taliban’s relationship with al Qaeda. He asserted that this relationship is “far stronger” than their connection with the United States.
In the interview on CBS’s “Face The Nation”, McKenzie referred to a clip from June where President Biden had addressed the failures of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Biden had previously stated that al-Qaeda would not be present in Afghanistan and that the U.S. would cooperate with the Taliban. McKenzie responded by questioning the trustworthiness of the Taliban, emphasizing their long-term and customary ties with al Qaeda, suggesting that this connection is unlikely to change.
McKenzie’s perspective is rooted in his analysis of intelligence reports up until April 2022, which led him to believe that the Taliban would act solely in their own best interests.
Recalling the Doha Agreement of February 2020, McKenzie highlighted the deal between the U.S. and the Taliban, which committed the U.S. to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for the Taliban’s participation in a peace process and their commitment to refrain from attacking U.S. forces and major Afghan cities.
The Biden administration’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August 2021, followed by a tumultuous two-week evacuation, faced criticism from House Republicans. McKenzie, who retired from active duty in April after the U.S. withdrawal, had previously advised Biden to maintain 2,500 troops in the country, but the President opted for a complete withdrawal.
McKenzie had also expressed concerns about reduced intelligence capabilities in Afghanistan post-withdrawal, emphasizing that the U.S. had limited visibility into the region.