Rex Tillerson: “To just say we're going to keep doing what we've been doing, the President (Donald Trump) is not willing to accept that.”
US Officials Hold Sessions Over Options for Afghanistan
The US National Security Council has already had three sessions “exploring a full range of options for Afghanistan,” US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said at a press conference on Monday.
“And when I say a full range of options, I mean the entire landscape. And I think it's reflective of the deliberations that we want to undertake,” Tillerson said.
“The President (Donald Trump) is asking, I think, some very, very pointed questions, and they are good questions. They were the right questions that he should be asking, and perhaps these are questions that no one's been willing to raise in the past.”
“With the questions that he's asked us, we want to give him good, thorough answers and good, thorough analysis to go with that, a very clear-eyed view, a very realistic view of what the future is likely to look like,” he said.
He stressed US Vice President Mike Pence has taken a very active role in these discussions with the security council, and “he'd been very helpful in helping the security council navigate what are some really tough questions that have been put to us.”
“I think we want to take the time to do the analysis, a fully integrated analysis from the Intel Community to the military planners to the diplomatic channels as to how this all plays out and where does this go. It's one thing to say we're just going to keep fighting because there is no other option. There are always other options,” he said.
He pointed out that Trump has asked the US officials to fully explore the options. “I think the fact that we're taking our time to try to come to a solution that is realistic. It takes a clear view of what we're dealing with on the ground, and being very honest with ourselves about expectations of the future. That serves the American people's interest well.”
He also talked about the presence of the US troops in Afghanistan in the past 17 years and the war in the country.
“As you know, it has been a tough area. It is for 16 years, 17 years we've been at it now. To just say we're going to keep doing what we've been doing, the President is not willing to accept that, and so he is asking some tough questions, and the Security Council is working diligently to give him the best answers we can.”
Tillerson’s comments comes amid reports that US President Donald Trump recently threatened to fire Gen. John Nicholson, the US and Nato commander in Afghanistan.
Trump has also delayed announcing his new military and political strategy. Afghans have been waiting for anxiously for the past six months.
Trump’s attack on Nicholson for failing to “win” the 17-year war has stunned Afghan officials and political leaders. They said a clear signal of continued support from Washington is urgently needed to keep the fragile Kabul government on its feet amid an explosion of public unrest and organized opposition from a variety of groups, according to a New York Times report.
But the US National Security advisor, HR McMaster, in an interview with the MSNBC about Nicholson said: “I’ve known him for many years. I can’t imagine a more capable commander in any in any, on any mission.”
He also criticized Pakistan over fighting against the insurgents and said that “Taliban and Haqqani network have bases in Pakistan and we want to really see that changed.”
“There’s a tremendously successful campaign going on with Afghan forces in the lead. It’s an unreported campaign in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. The president has said that he does not want to place restrictions on the military that undermine our ability to win battles in combat,” McMaster said during the interview. “He has lifted those restrictions, and you’re beginning to see the payoff of that as well.”
“The President has also made clear that we need to see a change in the behavior of those in the region, which includes those who are providing safe havens and support bases for the Taliban, Haqqani Network and others. This is Pakistan, in particular, that we want to really see a change and a reduction of their support for these groups,” he said. “I mean, this is of course, a very paradoxical situation where Pakistan is taking great losses. They have fought very hard against these groups, but they’ve done so really only selectively.”
This comes as, the insurgents have increased their attacks in the country and more frequent clashes with the Afghan security forces in the different parts of the country are occurring.
There are 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan training and advising the Afghan military in the fight against the Taliban and Daesh.