CIA Director Was Involved in Secret Effort To ‘Transition’ Ghani Government in Afghanistan for U.S. Withdrawal
Oct. 2, 2021 (EIRNS)—CIA Director William Burns seems to have been in the middle of efforts to stabilize the Afghan government of Ashraf Ghani, to keep it alive despite the U.S. withdrawal. CBS News reported yesterday that when Ghani was in Washington to meet with President Joe Biden in June, he also met with Burns at CIA headquarters on June 24 to discuss the upcoming transition that would need to happen as the U.S. withdrew its troops. Two sources with knowledge of the meeting described to CBS the conversation with Burns as “very policy-centric” as the U.S. tried to coach Ghani on steps he would need to take to handle the transition, but with little cooperation from Ghani.
Burns, in a trip kept secret until now, had earlier traveled to Kabul in April to meet with Ghani and for a discussion about the broader mission of extracting Afghans who had worked with the intelligence agency over the past decades. Concerns were already mounting about the Taliban’s battleground advances and the Afghan government’s ability to fend them off after the U.S. withdrawal. In a letter sent in early August to former CIA officers and obtained by CBS News, Burns cited “troubling advances by the Taliban” and explained that making Afghanistan his first stop had been intended to reflect his view that the country is important to the counterterrorism mission of the agency.
The CBS report goes on to describe how the Afghans suffered blow after blow to their morale as a result of U.S. decisions on the withdrawal but at the same time the U.S. military had complaints about Ghani, mostly relating to behavior that suggested he was disconnected from reality. The clear message was that the Taliban was coming back into power in one form or another, and for months, the Biden administration had been frustrated that Ghani’s government had not accepted this reality and failed to broker its own peace deal with the Taliban, CBS says.