National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan promised Sunday that while Republicans may fear that the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan will allow new threats to emerge or old ones to regain power, President Biden will not let that happen.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that in leaving Afghanistan, the U.S. would be “gift wrapping the country and handing it right back” to the Taliban.
“President Biden is not going to take his eye off the ball,” Sullivan assured “Fox News Sunday” viewers. “He said in his speech that we would maintain capabilities in the region to be able to deal with any threat that reconstitutes.”
Sullivan maintained that by keeping forces in the region, the U.S. will be able to ward off any threats that may arise from organizations like ISIS or al-Qaida. He said that according to intelligence, the U.S. would have “months of warning before al-Qaida or ISIS could have an external plotting capability from Afghanistan.”
He also stressed that because the landscape of the Middle East and its terror threats have changed in the nearly 20 years since the U.S. went to Afghanistan, the U.S. should chance its approach.
“So to really protect this country from the terrorist threat, we need to allocate our resources and capabilities across a range of countries and continents, not just focus them on Afghanistan,” he said.
Addressing what would happen to the people of Afghanistan should the U.S. exit, Sullivan noted the the U.S. will continue to provide civilian and humanitarian assistance.
Sullivan also addressed Iran, and efforts to curb its nuclear ambitions. While he would not go into specifics of what the U.S. would demand in exchange for lifting sanctions, he did say that confidence in Iran to live up to commitments was essential.
“What I will say is that the United States is not going to lift sanctions unless we have clarity and confidence that Iran will fully return to compliance with its obligations under the deal,” he said, “that it will put a lid on its nuclear program, that it will expand its breakout time, that it will reduce the level of enrichment and the scope of enrichment in its country, and until we have confidence in all of those things the United States is not going to make any concessions at all.”