The White House said on Wednesday, that the US is not in a rush to recognize the new Taliban government in Afghanistan. The Press Secretary also expressed concern over the appointment of a Haqqani Network terrorist as their interior minister and instead asked, "Why are we engaging?" The Republicans maintained that the US should follow a hardline policy and not lift sanctions targeting Taliban forces.
"No one in this administration, not the President nor anyone on the national security team, would suggest that the Taliban are respected and valued members of the global community. They have not earned that in any way, and we have never assessed that. This is a caretaker cabinet that also includes 4 former imprisoned Taliban fighters," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference.
"We have not conveyed we're going to recognize it and nor are we rushing to recognition. There's a lot they have to do before that. What we are working to do is to engage with them because they oversee and control Afghanistan right now and we need to get American citizens, legal permanent residents, SIV applicants out of Afghanistan," Psaki said.
She expressed the US's desire to engage with the Taliban but added with skepticism, "Their new acting interior minister is a Haqqani network terrorist. He's wanted for a bombing that killed six people, including an American. He's believed to have participated in cross-border attacks against US troops. There's a $10-million bounty on his head. Why are we(even) engaging?"
The interim government by Taliban includes specially designated global terrorist Sirajuddin Haqqani as their acting interior minister.
"Should we not talk to the people who are overseeing Afghanistan (the Taliban) and just leave it and not get the rest of the American citizens out?" the White House press secretary said while reiterating that the international community is watching.
"The United States is watching. It's whether they let people depart the country who want to depart, whether they treat women across the country as they have committed to treating them and how they behave and operate. And, therefore, we're not moving toward recognition," she insisted.
"At the same time, we're dealing in reality here where we have to engage in order to get American citizens and others out of Afghanistan," she said.
Meanwhile, House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul (on behalf of the Republicans) in a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, asked her to continue US sanctions against the Taliban.
"With the withdrawal of all US military forces and diplomatic personnel having been completed while Americans and thousands of our Afghan allies remain trapped on the ground, the Taliban holds all the cards. Despite the public statements that have been made, we urge you and the rest of the Biden Administration to maintain a very healthy dose of skepticism about what the Taliban's intentions and abilities are, they said.
"With the Taliban's capture of Kabul, their continued ties to Al-Qaeda and track record of horrific governance have become even more concerning. We must maintain what leverage this administration has left to not only secure the evacuation of our citizens, allies, and Afghan partners from the clutches of a terrorist group but to prevent another atrocity on American shores like the tragic attacks on 9/11," the Republican lawmakers said.
"We believe that it is necessary for the Treasury Department to maintain and potentially expand its current sanctions efforts targeting the Taliban forces, leaders, and the 3rd-party entities that fund them. It is imperative that no sanctions against the Taliban are lifted to ensure that our national security and the security of our citizens and partners is protected,” they said.
Congressmen Carlos Gimenez and Ted Budd have introduced Prohibiting Assistance to the Taliban Act to stop American taxpayer dollars from being sent to the Taliban in the form of foreign aid or economic assistance.
"The same Taliban government that gives aid and comfort to Al-Qaeda terrorists should not receive a single cent from hardworking American taxpayers. I’d like to thank Republican Gimenez for leading this important legislation," Budd said.
"It is gruesome that Biden is not capable of responding when attacks occur and he and Kamala Harris must resign to protect American families," Congressman Joe Wilson said.
(With PTI Inputs)