US to Cut $1 Billion in Afghanistan Aid Over ‘Leadership Failure’

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to the continued disagreement in Afghanistan between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah about which of them won the September 2019 presidential election, Washington announced it will reduce its aid to the country by $1 billion and is prepared to cut another $1 billion in 2021.

“The United States is disappointed in them and what their conduct means for Afghanistan and our shared interests,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a Monday statement about Abdullah and Ghani, Sputnik reported.

“Their failure has harmed US-Afghan relations and, sadly, dishonors those Afghan, Americans, and Coalition partners who have sacrificed their lives,” he added.

“Because this leadership failure poses a direct threat to US national interests, effective immediately, the US government will initiate a review of the scope of our cooperation with Afghanistan,” Pompeo said.

“Among other steps, we are today announcing a responsible adjustment to our spending in Afghanistan and immediately reducing assistance by $1 billion this year. We are prepared to reduce by another $1 billion in 2021,” he added.

“We will also initiate a review of all of our programs and projects to identify additional reductions, and reconsider our pledges to future donor conferences for Afghanistan. We have made clear to the leadership that we will not back security operations that are politically motivated, nor support political leaders who order such operations or those who advocate for or support parallel government,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo indicated the US would continue its conditional withdrawal agreed upon with the Taliban militant group. He met with Taliban officials in Doha, Qatar, earlier on Monday.

The US provides roughly $4.5 billion annually for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), covering 75% of its budget, according to the Congressional Research Service. US budget requests for 2021 included $4 billion for the ANSF budget. Funding cuts come shortly after Pompeo made an emergency visit to Kabul to speak with both politicians, each of whom declared themselves president of Afghanistan.

Ghani, the incumbent, was declared the election’s winner by the election commission and sworn in for a new term on March 9, but Abdullah has said Ghani’s votes were stolen and threatened to swear himself in as president instead. Abdullah was Ghani’s chief executive and the effective head of government, an office created as a power-sharing agreement when he narrowly lost the previous election in 2014.

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