Exclusive: Afghan ambassador to US wants more air support as Taliban continue to gain ground

U.S.

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now)  — Afghan ambassador to the United States Adela Raz says the withdrawal of U.S. troops has been “quick” and has “created consequences,” but she believes with the help of U.S. air power, there is still hope for her country.

The Taliban have taken over nine of 35 provincial capitals in the country. Now, U.S. intelligence estimates the Taliban could take over the capital of Kabul in coming months.

“If I talk about the fall of Kabul, then I’m shattering my hopes,” Raz said during the exclusive interview with NewsNation.

Raz, in her first U.S. interview, said she wants more U.S. firepower, specifically close air support, even after U.S. ground forces complete their withdrawal at the end of this month.

She says the air support being provided right now is “extremely limited” and the war is growing more intense by the day. The airstrikes have not made a strategic difference thus far and are scheduled to end when the U.S. formally ends its role in the war on Aug. 31. Biden could continue airstrikes beyond that date, but experts view it as unlikely.

“It’s not always going to be feasible, but where and when feasible, we will continue to support them with air strikes,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.

“But it is feasible because [the U.S.] did that post-9/11 and it was effective,” Raz said. “[The U.S.] took control of the entire country in two weeks. And I was there.”

But President Joe Biden has shown no inclination to turn back on the plan to leave the embattled country.

“They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation,” Biden said this week.

“We have been fighting for ourselves and for the peace and security of the rest of the world,” Raz said. “That we are doing, and we will do it to the last minute.”

Ambassador Raz also called on the U.S. and allies to reimpose sanctions like travel bans on Taliban leaders. She also wants more help defending Afghan officials against Taliban assassins, saying the killings are threatening the government’s backbone.

She’s hopeful, but skeptical of the prospect of a peaceful path forward. “Do we have one example [of making peace with terrorists]?” Raz asked.

Last month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said a political solution was “the only outcome to lasting peace in Afghanistan.”

“We have to have a hope, right?,” Raz said. “I think the start of the negotiation was to come to a political solution,” Raz said. “But we have to be also cautious that we should not put all our eggs in one basket. And assuming there would be a political solution, we have to prepare for the possibility: what if there is no political solution?”

Right now, there are no signs the Taliban is ready to talk.

“I’m not for war,” Raz said. “I grew up in war. I lost my relatives. I don’t want it. It’s a hard time.”

Raz said there is a growing humanitarian crisis happening in her country, with civilians fleeing their homes hit by bombs and women being murdered.

She said members of her own family are fighting the terrorists as civilians.

“They haven’t given up,” Raz said. “They have come back to fight.”

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She said this is not only difficult for her, but all Afghans.

“I think for every Afghan, because we don’t advocate for war, but there is a time we need to defend ourselves,” Raz said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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