- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lambasted the White House on Tuesday for its commitment to pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, arguing the move would hamper efforts to fight terrorism in the Middle East.

“After we leave, there’s every reason to believe that al Qaeda will regroup in its historic safe haven,” said the Kentucky Republican. “Giving up the high ground while the enemy is still on the battlefield isn’t a strategic move.”

The Republican leader, in particular, noted the difficulty that U.S. armed forces and intelligence agencies would have in pursuing terrorists without a base of operation in Afghanistan.

“If we’ve learned anything in the fight against terrorists, it’s the importance of reliable access and local partnerships,” said Mr. McConnell. “Give up the former, and we likely lose the latter.”

According to the minority leader, giving up access to airbases in Afghanistan from which to launch “reconnaissance and strike missions against terrorists” would be a grave mistake.

“The country is not easy to get to,” said Mr. McConnell. “Its immediate neighbors are Iran, Pakistan, and Russian-influenced Central Asian nations. They aren’t likely to let use base significant counterterrorism units in their countries.”

The comments come as fears continue to mount that Mr. Biden’s decision to jettison Afghanistan will cause the country’s government to topple under pressure from Islamic extremists.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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