The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, confirmed Thursday that his country will do “the necessary” to ensure the safety of Afghan interpreters, at a time when the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is accelerating.
The US State Department is following up on this file because it is the ministry responsible for granting visas to Afghans, especially interpreters who fear for their lives after the departure of foreign forces from Afghanistan. However, the US Department of Defense (the Pentagon) has already made preparations in this direction, according to what Milley confirmed when asked in Congress about this “moral duty” of the United States.
“I can assure you that the US government will do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety and protection of those who have worked with us for two decades,” he said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who was in the same session before the Senate Armed Services Committee, agreed, saying, “It’s a very important matter for us. We, on our part, are pushing as hard as we can” to speed it up “as much as possible.”
On Monday, the Taliban called on the Afghan international forces’ interpreters to “repent” and stay in Afghanistan after the departure of Western forces that are accelerating their withdrawal from the country.
The movement stressed in a statement that these Afghans “will not face any danger from our side” and that “no one should leave the country.”
In their statement, they stressed that “a large number of Afghans during the last twenty years made a mistake (choosing) their profession and worked with foreign forces as translators, guards or other jobs, and now with the withdrawal of foreign forces, they feel fear and seek to leave the country.”
With the accelerated withdrawal of NATO forces, thousands of Afghan translators who used to work with embassies and Western military forces are flocking to consulates in the hope of obtaining an immigrant visa, fearing reprisals if the Taliban return to power in Kabul.
beyond the horizon
On the other hand, Austin said that the US military has already begun, from abroad, to conduct aerial reconnaissance operations to monitor jihadist groups in Afghanistan.
Since announcing the withdrawal from Afghanistan in April, the Pentagon has consistently maintained that it would maintain capabilities “beyond the horizon,” referring to air operations from abroad. “At a time when we have withdrawn a lot of our capabilities from the country, we are doing many things beyond the horizon,” the defense minister continued.
He explained that surveillance and reconnaissance operations are carried out from the Gulf countries, where there are several bases of the US military and where an aircraft carrier has recently been deployed. The United States is seeking cooperation agreements with countries neighboring Afghanistan to establish bases there that would allow it to closely monitor al-Qaeda or the Islamic State jihadists.
“What we’re looking at is the possibility of reducing distances in the future, by deploying certain capabilities in neighboring countries. It’s still being negotiated,” Austin said.