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Foreign powers jockey for influence in Afghanistan after the withdrawal

Welcome to Foreign policy& # 39; s SitRep and have a nice Thursday folks.

The following is scheduled for the day: Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal is imminent create a power vacuum, distributed the White House Plum ambassador jobs, and Pressure mounts Deploy US troops from the Middle East.

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Are you stumbling into a new "great game"?

As US and coalition forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the regional powers struggle to gain influence in the country, creating the conditions for new geopolitical clashes, even as the Taliban and Afghan government forces struggle for control of the country.

To the races. Iran, China, India, Pakistan and Russia are all pushing to increase their influence in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal and launching silent diplomatic power games targeting both the Afghan government and the Taliban.

This month, the foreign ministers of China, Afghanistan and Pakistan met via videoconference to discuss Afghanistan's future and demonstrated Beijing's attempts to strengthen its weight in Central Asia and expand its investment in Afghanistan, which is a potentially lucrative corridor for its so-called belt applies and road initiative.

India, meanwhile, has tacitly undone its longstanding policy of non-affiliation with the Taliban, and has reportedly been started diplomatic talks with representatives of the militant group in Qatar.

Neighboring Pakistan, which still exerts significant influence over the Taliban, is reluctant to India's efforts to influence Afghanistan's future. During a meeting of regional national security advisers in Tajikistan this week, Pakistan's national security adviser Moeed Yusuf took a Vhurry wipe in New Delhi, the statement of external “spoilers” could undo the peace efforts in Afghanistan.

What does it all bring together? Some analysts fear that the diplomatic proxy struggles could only further destabilize the already fragile country – and would ultimately strengthen the Taliban to strengthen its international reputation and envisage a full takeover of Afghanistan.

Some analysts have drawn comparisons to the so-called "big game" of the political tussle between the Russian and British empires over Central Asia in the 19th century – despite Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan explicitly said he's working to avoid stumbling into a great new game.

But it is not clear how all these conflicting diplomatic offers will end, in large part because it is uncertain whether or how long the Afghan government can withstand the onslaught of Taliban attacks if US forces withdraw.

A new US intelligence review reported by the Wall Street Journal, concluded that the Afghan government could fall to the Taliban within six months. Other analysts predict the fighting could lead to an ongoing civil war if the government does not fall; some vulnerable ethnic groups in Afghanistan who feel abandoned by Afghan government forces are already education own militias to protect against Taliban offensives.

Exit strategy. Biden will meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation, in the White House on Friday to discuss the country's future after the US withdrawal.

Meanwhile, Congress is increasingly frustrated with the Biden administration's lack of clarity about how the US military will continue to develop so-called "beyond the horizon" intelligence and counter-terrorism capabilities in Afghanistan after the withdrawal.

"When the Taliban take over, it will be much, much more difficult to monitor," Senator Dan Sullivan, a Republican on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, told SitRep. “Having boots on the ground is important for an [anti-terror] ability, but also for a secret service ability it is immensely important to have boots on the ground. And the less you have, the less you can actually see, 'Hey, is there something going on that requires or requires a CT strike? "

Assistant Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said this summer the Pentagon is still preparing options for President Joe Biden on what a Beyond the Horizon Capability would look like.

Let's get staff

Biden nominated Cindy McCain, humanist and wife of the late Senator and Republican presidential candidate, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agencies.

Michael Zimmermann has been appointed US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Former Delaware Government Jack Markell is Biden's choice as ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, and Claire Cronin, a senior lawmaker in Massachusetts, has been appointed US Ambassador to Ireland.

Celeste Wallander is Biden's election as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, a senior political officer at the Pentagon. Wallander, head of the U.S.-Russia Foundation, was the top Russian hand in the National Security Council and in the Pentagon of the Obama administration.

Behind the schedule. The economist Reports that Biden only has 70 executive officers sustained more than five months in his tenure. That compares nicely with Trump, who at the time had only confirmed 44 officials, but not so well with Obama, who had 165 officials by the end of June 2009.

What we see above in the news cycle.

Correct your posture. With the Biden administration providing evidence that the upcoming Pentagon stance review may include the withdrawal of US troops in Iraq and anti-missile batteries from the Middle East, the think tank community is now trying to move the Department of Defense further in that direction to steer.

In one report from the Quincy Institute, former Pentagon official Eugene Gholz urges the Biden team "to align its military presence with its strategic interests in the Middle East by initiating a responsible and timely withdrawal of US forces in the region." Since it would be difficult for a would-be opponent like Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz, there is no compelling reason to stay, argues Gholz.

Become robust. Republicans in Congress are pushing back the Biden administration after freezing $ 100 million in additional military aid to Ukraine to deal with Russia's recent buildup of troops and equipment in the region.

Citing recent statements by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan that aid would only be given if there was one more incursion, Jim Inhofe, the Republican chief on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, said it was just a "fancy way of saying": "We have won ". take no further action until Russia continues to invade Ukrainian territory & # 39; – then it will be too late. "

The Biden government has already provided US $ 150 million in military aid to Ukraine this year, which has been approved by Congress.

"I want to get smarter." Critical racial theory turned into political football on Capitol Hill, and on Wednesday lawmakers tossed the pigskin to U.S. military chief General Mark Milley after the House aides learned that the U.S. Military Academy was at West Point a seminar on "white" anger "- a passionate speech by Milley that has gone viral several times.

"It is important that we understand that our soldiers, sailors, Airmen, Marines and guards are from the American people," Milley said. “That is why it is important that managers understand this now [and] in the future. I've read Mao Zedong, I've read Karl Marx, I've read Lenin – that doesn't make me a communist. So what's wrong with having some situational understanding of the country we're here to defend? "

CH-47 Chinook military helicopters with US and Moroccan special forces take part in the joint military exercise "African Lion" near Tifnit, Morocco on June 17th.Fadel Senna / AFP via Getty Images

25 years ago this week, 19 American airmen were killed in the bombing of the Khobar towers in Saudi Arabia. Read this account the aftermath of the attack by Bruce Riedel, who was then assistant secretary of defense and who arrived at the scene the next morning.

The National Security Archive at George Washington University released declassified documents about the US response to the attacks, including how it affected the Clinton administration's secret overtures to Iran in 1999 worth reading.

Friday June 25th: Vice President Kamala Harris travels from Biden to El Paso, Texas in her role as border tsar to investigate the root causes of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras amid a flood of border crossings.

Monday, June 28th: Biden receives the outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in the White House.

"I'm trying to hire the bear to keep a pot of honey safe."

—Like the Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda described Proposal for an EU summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Bucharest or Budapest? Unfortunately, a group of French fans who wanted to reach their home country this weekend for the European Football Championship 2020 could not tell the difference between these two European cities. Confusing Bucharest for Budapest, six French colleagues who work for an IT company traveled 500 miles further than they should have been and were misled by a group of Ukrainian football fans leaving the airport between games between games.

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