Sen. Kennedy introduces bill to 'save' Afghan allies as US withdraws

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Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy introduced legislation Tuesday that seeks to protect Afghan translators and allies who played a “crucial role” in assisting U.S. forces during the War in Afghanistan. 

The Save Our Afghan Allies Act would direct the State and Defense departments to work with individuals by relocating them or granting them safe haven in the United States as U.S. military forces dwindle.

“America’s Afghan allies risked their lives and families to help American soldiers, and it’s unthinkable that the U.S. would leave them in the hands of the merciless Taliban,” Kennedy said in a statement Tuesday. “These brave Afghans have no safe haven in their homeland, and the least we can do is guarantee their protection in the U.S. I hope my colleagues join me in passing this bill to give sanctuary to our allies and their families.”

The Biden administration began the official removal of troops from Afghanistan early last month, postponing the original exodus date of May 1 – agreed to under the Trump administration – to Sept. 11, 2021. 

Roughly 2,500 U.S. troops and 7,000 NATO soldiers remain in the Taliban-ridden country.

Pentagon officials warned that remaining troops could be at a higher risk of attack as Western forces decrease and the insurgents regain power.

The Taliban has engaged in a recent surge of violence and has taken 50 of the country’s 370 districts, reported the United Nations envoy for Afghanistan Tuesday. 

“Most districts that have been taken surround provincial capitals, suggesting that the Taliban are positioning themselves to try and take these capitals once foreign forces are fully withdrawn,” Special Representative and Head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan Deborah Lyons said. 

She attributed the rise in violence to the removal of U.S. and NATO troops following a two-decade-long presence in Afghanistan.

The removal was intended to conclude in part what Donald Trump called the “endless wars” and to allow a peace deal to be reached.

But Lyons said, “actions on the battlefield have been far greater than progress at the negotiating table” – where peace talks have stalled. 

The U.S. has attempted to facilitate a peace deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government by the September troop withdrawal date – but some security officials remain skeptical, dubbing the effort “moonshot” because of its seemingly lofty goal.

Lyons urged the U.N. Security Council to do all it could to reestablish peace talks.

“Increased conflict in Afghanistan means increased insecurity for many other countries, near and far,” she said.

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