September 15, 2016

Corker Stresses Continued Challenges to U.S. Interests in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON – During a hearing on U.S. policy in Afghanistan, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stressed ongoing security and development challenges facing the country as the U.S. and other international partners prepare for an Afghanistan aid conference in Brussels next month. He expressed continued support for postponing a faster drawdown of the U.S. security presence this year and additional counterterrorism assistance for Afghan forces amid increasing violence by extremists groups.

“I was really glad to see President Obama commit to 8,400 troops going forward,” said Corker. “I would’ve liked for [that decision] to have occurred earlier, but it seems like we’ve been able to continue to have the support of our allies in the region…I appreciate, certainly, the additional authorities that have been given to our military there to counter Al-Qaeda and to work more closely with the Afghan troops themselves.”

He also reiterated frustration over Pakistan’s role in harboring terrorists from the Haqqani network, one of the most violent groups aiding the Taliban in its fight to regain control of Afghanistan.

“Pakistan continues to be a tremendously duplicitous partner in this,” said Corker. “Certainly they are working against our interests [in Afghanistan] through helping support…the Haqqani network. They are the greatest threat to American soldiers there and certainly the greatest threat to the Afghan military and civilians.”

The committee heard testimony today from Ambassador Richard Olson, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan; and Donald Sampler, Assistant to the Administrator, Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). While the witnesses cited some progress on security and governance, they acknowledged major challenges remain for Afghanistan to become self-reliant.