The US is concerned about an increase in attacks by the ISIS terrorist group’s affiliate in Afghanistan and remains deeply concerned about al-continued Qaeda’s presence there, according to US Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West on Monday.
He spoke to reporters over the phone from Brussels, where he briefed NATO allies on US talks with the Taliban and held consultations on stabilizing Afghanistan following the group’s takeover in August and the withdrawal of US troops.
West, who is scheduled to visit Pakistan, India, and Russia for additional consultations, stated that the US is preparing for the next round of talks with the Taliban in Doha, but he did not specify a date.
With winter approaching, impoverished Afghanistan has transitioned from all-out war to a humanitarian crisis, with millions facing growing hunger amid soaring food prices, a drought, and a collapsing economy fueled by a lack of hard currency.
In addition, the Taliban is facing increased attacks from its ideological foe, ISIS-Khorasan Province, or ISIS-K, the regional terrorist group affiliate.
West stated that Washington is “concerned about the increase in ISIS-K attacks, and we want the Taliban to be successful in combating them.” When it comes to other (militant) groups, al-Qaeda maintains a presence there, which we are very concerned about.”
The presence of Al-Qaeda “remains a source of concern for us in our dialogue with the Taliban,” he added.
US officials believe that ISIS-K will be able to stage attacks outside of Afghanistan within six to twelve months, and that al-Qaeda will be able to do so within one to two years.
In other news, West stated that the US is not seriously considering reopening its Kabul embassy for the time being, preferring to wait for the Taliban to “establish a record of responsible conduct” before considering that option.