Tell Secretary Blinken: Keep the Embassy in Kabul Open & Increase Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan!
Join U.S. Army Colonel and Diplomat Ann Wright in calling on Secretary Blinken to keep the U.S. Embassy in Kabul open and fund aid for the people of Afghanistan.
We, the undersigned, join retired U.S. Army Colonel and Diplomat Ann Wright in urging Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to keep the U.S. Embassy in Kabul open.
Additionally, we are deeply concerned about the escalating humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Over 500,000 Afghans, 80 percent of whom are women and children, became displaced inside Afghanistan this year, adding to the already about three million internal refugees in urgent need of food, shelter, clean water, and medical care. That’s why we appeal to the Biden administration to fund aid to the Afghan people through the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, which has issued an urgent appeal for $350 million.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken
US Department of State
Dear Secretary Blinken,
I was a U.S. diplomat for sixteen years and served in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. I am also a retired U.S. Army Colonel and served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves.
I was on the small State Department team that reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December 2001 and remained in Kabul for the first five months of 2002. I have been back to Afghanistan many times in the twenty years of U.S. involvement in the country.
I also was the Charge d’Affaires in May 1997 when due to a coup against the government of Sierra Leone, we had to close the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone and evacuate 2500 persons from the Embassy family, Sierra Leone government officials, diplomats from other countries and citizens we felt would be in danger from the coup makers. I know well the challenges of the political issues and security decisions that come into play in the determination of whether to close an Embassy, the symbol of U.S. interests in a country.
With these issues in mind, I appeal to you to keep the U.S. Embassy in Kabul open.
I hope the United States sincerely wishes to assist the people of Afghanistan with humanitarian aid for the internally displaced within the country, as well as long-term projects in health, education and infrastructure. To assist Afghans, the U.S. Embassy must remain open.
Taliban pronouncements of amnesty for government workers and those who have worked with the U.S. are welcome and, of course, will have to be monitored.
A part of the small “leverage” the U.S. might have with the new government would be through the presence of a U.S. Embassy. Other countries, including China, Russia and Pakistan, have not closed their embassies. The lack of a U.S. Embassy would be seen very poorly by the people of Afghanistan.
Over a period of eighteen months, the U.S. negotiated with the Taliban a withdrawal of U.S. military. The U.S. negotiating team of State, CIA and Defense officials has had extensive discussions with senior leadership of the Taliban. The Taliban officials are now well-known to the U.S. Securing an agreement from these officials that the U.S. Embassy compound and U.S. agencies facilities will not be damaged or personnel injured by Taliban forces should be obtainable.
As a bit of history you may not be aware of, In the twelve years the U.S. Embassy was closed from 1989 until 2001 and during the five years the Taliban controlled Kabul from 1996-2001, the Taliban did not attempt to enter the Embassy properties. The only damage done to the Embassy during that 12-year period was from the rockets of warlords firing over Kabul and inadvertently hitting the Embassy. The small, local Embassy staff that protected the Embassy compound during that period were very courageous.
I strongly urge you to keep the U.S. Embassy in Kabul open.