US says it ‘can still reach out and touch’ terrorists in Afghanistan

KABUL — Afghanistan’s deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sher Mohammad Abas Stanekzai, criticized the Western countries for putting pressure on the current Afghan government and also accused the US of violating the Doha agreement by carrying out a drone strike in Kabul that killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri on July 31, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

In the meantime, the US Department of Defense said that it can still “reach out and touch” any “terrorist” groups without having an actual troop presence in Afghanistan.

“I think in the last ten days, in the strike that was carried out on Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda and the most wanted terrorist on planet earth and one of the two co-planners for the 9/11 attacks, what we have demonstrated to al-Qaeda but also to other organizations is that we can still reach out and touch them and protect our vital national interests even though we no longer have thousands of troops in Afghanistan,” Colin H. Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, said at a press conference at the Pentagon.

Former US commander in Afghanistan, David Petraeus, in an article for The Atlantic said that the outcome of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is “heartbreaking” and “tragic” for many Afghans and devastating for the country and said that maintaining a troop presence would have been “markedly better.”

“To be sure, managing the situation would have required a sustained, generational commitment, one that would have continued to be frustrating and inevitably less than ideal; nonetheless, it would have been markedly better than leaving the country and its people to the Taliban and its insurgent partners, as should be obvious now,” Petraeus wrote.