WASHINGTON: As the US strikes to withdraw its army from Afghanistan over the subsequent 5 months, concerns are rising about one American who dangers being left behind.
Mark Frerichs, a contractor from Lombard, Illinois, believed held for greater than a 12 months by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani community, was not talked about in President Joe Biden‘s tackle on Afghanistan final week. Nor was the troop withdrawal, scheduled to be full by Sept. 11, conditioned on his launch from custody, fueling concerns that the U.S. might lose bargaining energy to get Frerichs dwelling as soon as its army presence is faraway from the nation.
“Any leverage that we had, we have simply now introduced to the world and to the Taliban and the Haqqanis that we will pull out. Not solely is it our leverage, it is our army functionality to rescue him,” Rep. Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican and Green Beret who served in Afghanistan, mentioned in an interview with The Associated Press. “So it is simply completely disheartening.”
The Biden administration has mentioned it regards the return of hostages to be a high precedence. Despite this, the destiny of a single captive is unlikely to sway the broader coverage curiosity in ending a 20-year warfare that started in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults. It’s not unusual for detainee points to be eclipsed by different international coverage issues, as appeared to occur final week when the administration did not point out Russia’s detention of two Americans, even because it introduced causes for taking punitive motion towards Moscow.
Even so, for Frerichs’ household, the failure to make his return an element within the withdrawal is a supply of frustration, as is the truth that the Trump administration signed a peace deal in February 2020, simply weeks after Frerichs vanished in Afghanistan whereas engaged on engineering initiatives within the nation.
His sister, Charlene Cakora, mentioned in a press release that the army withdrawal “places a time stamp on Mark. We have 150 days to get him dwelling or our leverage is gone.”
Frerichs’ home-state senators, Democrats Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, had raised comparable concerns in a letter earlier this 12 months to Biden.
In an interview Monday, Duckworth mentioned she’s been reassured by the administration that Frerichs has been a part of the discussions and that officers are conscious of his case. She mentioned she spoke privately with Biden himself final Thursday, handing him a card with details about the case.
“He mentioned he was very effectively conscious and he requested me to additionally let the household know that he was conscious and was on high of it,” Duckworth mentioned.
The US has not disclosed a lot about Frerichs’ destiny or standing however confirmed Monday that there have been energetic discussions with the Taliban.
State Department spokesman Ned Price mentioned in a press release that US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, working intently with Roger Carstens, the particular presidential envoy for hostage affairs, “has continued to press the Taliban for Mr. Frerichs’ launch, and continues to lift his standing in senior degree engagements in Doha and Islamabad. We place a excessive precedence on Mark Frerichs’ security and won’t cease working till he’s safely returned to his household.”
The AP reported in January that the Taliban in the course of the Trump administration had sought the discharge of a combatant imprisoned on drug costs within the US as a part of a broader effort to resolve points with Afghanistan. The request prompted dialogue between the State Department and the Justice Department about whether or not such a launch might occur, although it in the end didn’t.
Duckworth, who has mentioned the case with Khalilzad, mentioned the Taliban remained “insistent” on that launch and had not moved off of their place.
The withdrawal from Afghanistan was considered one of two important international coverage strikes introduced by Biden final week. The different concerned sanctions on Russia for election interference and for the hack of federal authorities companies.
The White House didn’t use that chance to name out Moscow for what US officers say is the unjust detention of not less than two Americans: Paul Whelan, a company safety govt from Michigan sentenced to 16 years in jail on espionage costs, and Trevor Reed, a Marine veteran who was convicted in an altercation with police in Russia and sentenced to 9 years.
Whelan’s brother, David, mentioned in a press release final week that he was looking forward to rapprochement between Moscow and Washington but in addition involved that the tit-for-tat actions – Russia responded to the US sanctions by asserting its personal expulsion of diplomats – could have made that more difficult.
“First, the sanctions proceed to make it tough for the 2 nations to create the connection and dialogue essential to create situations that may result in Paul’s launch,” Whelan wrote. “Second, the winnowing of US Embassy workers in Russia will make the tough work of consular assist even tougher.”