US senators concerned over lack of diplomatic focus on Afghanistan

861

WASHINGTON, July 5 (APP): A delegation of US senators currently
visiting Afghanistan has expressed deep concern over what they called lack of US diplomatic focus on Afghanistan, where the American embassy was being led by a charg d’affaires, and many senior positions in the State Department were yet to be filled.
There has been a growing concern in recent months that many of the
senior positions in the US Statement Department dealing with the regional issues were still vacant.
The position of Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan was
recently abolished, a report by the New York Times said.
The delegation, led by Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate’s
Armed Services Committee, which arrived in Kabul after a visit to Pakistan warned President Trump to fill the vacant positions in the State Department, including that of the US ambassador to Afghanistan.
Hugo Llorens, charg d’affaires, was called in from imminent retirement
to oversee the embassy affairs in Kabul in the absence of a permanent American ambassador at a time when the war-torn country is also facing political challenges, in addition to growing Taliban influence.
“All of us realize that it’s more than just dropping bombs that will win
in Afghanistan…. Secretary Tillerson needs to come to Afghanistan quickly,” Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican Senator who is part of the delegation was quoted as saying by the report.
Another delegation member, Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, said
the military had expressed concern about “the hollowing out of the State Department,” the report added.
American commanders are even taking care of some of the diplomatic
efforts around the country. President Trump is expected to announce a troop surge in Afghanistan of about 8,800 soldiers, although Pentagon has already indicated that there was no timeline on the increased military presence in that country.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat lawmaker and part of the
delegation, was of the opinion that the US needs a strategy that defines its role in Afghanistan.
According to the report, US diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan have been
criticized in recent years what some officials called “an annual lobotomy.” Most of the mid-ranking diplomats come to Afghanistan for one-year term, and by the time they get an feel of the complexity of the country’s complexity, their terms end.
The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated in recent years
and Afghanistan’s Defense Minister, Maj Gen Tariq Shah Bahrami said at a press conference on Tuesday that there was fighting in 21 out of the country’s 34 provinces and in seven of those, the government was facing “fierce fighting,” the report added.