The United States special envoy to Afghanistan is stepping down following the country’s recent chaotic withdrawal from the country. The State Department announced that Zalmay Khalilzad would be leaving after more than three years serving both the Trump and Biden administrations.
Fox News reports:
Khalilzad had initially planned to leave the job in May after Biden’s announcement that the U.S. withdrawal would be completed before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in September. However, he was asked to stay on and did so.
Khalilzad had served as the special envoy for Afghan reconciliation under both the Trump and Biden administrations since September 2018, when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brought him on board to lead negotiations with the Taliban and the Afghan government.
An Afghan native, Khalilzad was unsuccessful in getting the two sides together to forge a power-sharing deal but he did negotiate a U.S. agreement with the Taliban in February 2020 that ultimately led to the end of America’s longest-running war.
The agreement with the Taliban served as the template for the Biden administration’s withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan, which many believe was conducted too hastily and without enough planning. Thousands of Afghan citizens who worked for U.S. forces there over the past two decades were left behind in the rush to leave as were hundreds of American citizens and legal residents.
During the Trump administration, Khalilzad received criticism for not being hard enough on the Taliban during peace talks. However, Biden’s Secretary of State thanked him for his years of work in remarks announcing his departure.