Pakistan has expressed a want to signal a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in alternate for help with its personal counterterrorism efforts and assist in managing the connection with India, one of many sources stated. But the negotiations are ongoing, one other supply stated, and the phrases of the agreement, which has not been finalized, might nonetheless change.

The briefing comes because the White House continues to be making an attempt to make sure that it may possibly carry out counterterrorism operations towards ISIS-Ok and different adversaries in Afghanistan now that there isn’t a longer a US presence on the bottom for the primary time in 20 years after the NATO withdrawal from the nation.

The US military at present makes use of Pakistan’s airspace to attain Afghanistan as a part of ongoing intelligence-gathering efforts, however there isn’t a formal agreement in place to guarantee continued entry to a essential piece of airspace needed for the US to attain Afghanistan. The air hall via Pakistan to Afghanistan might turn into much more essential if and when the US resumes flights into Kabul to fly out American residents and others who stay in the nation. The third supply stated that an agreement was mentioned when US officers visited Pakistan, however it’s not but clear what Pakistan needs or how a lot the US can be keen to give in return.

With no formal agreement at present in place, the US runs the danger of Pakistan refusing entry to US military plane and drones en route to Afghanistan.

A Pentagon spokesman stated the Defense Department doesn’t touch upon closed briefings due to safety classifications. CNN has reached out to the National Security Council, State Department and Pakistan embassy in Washington for remark.

Uzbekistan and Tajikistan ‘lengthy shot’ choices for over-the-horizon operations

At the identical time, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are rising as the highest choices for potential places to set up a US military presence to conduct so-called over-the-horizon operations in Afghanistan, the sources stated, however each would run into extreme opposition from Russian President Vladimir Putin and a few native politicians. “Both are long shots,” one supply stated, calling them “likely pipe dreams due to needing Putin’s blessing.”

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman visited Uzbekistan earlier this month the place she mentioned “the way forward in Afghanistan” with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, in accordance to a readout of the assembly.

Close to 200 Americans are still seeking to leave Afghanistan, State Department tells congressional staff

Currently, the US conducts its over-the-horizon operations from bases in the Middle East, forcing drones to fly from distant bases, comparable to these in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, round Iran and thru Pakistani air area earlier than reaching Afghanistan. The prolonged flight limits the time drones can loiter over Afghanistan gathering intelligence, and the Biden administration has been searching for nearer, more practical choices.

The commander of US Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, informed lawmakers final month that he nonetheless has “the ability to look into Afghanistan,” however it’s “limited.” McKenzie additionally stated he was not assured in the US’ means to forestall ISIS and al Qaeda from utilizing Afghanistan as a launchpad for terrorist exercise in the long run.

“The US maintains ongoing ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capabilities as needed to support the over-the-horizon and counter-terrorism mission requirements,” a protection official informed CNN. That consists of not solely drones, but in addition indicators intelligence and cyber capabilities to monitor the scenario in Afghanistan.

Biden promised US would preserve counterterrorism capabliity

President Joe Biden stated in July, weeks earlier than the evacuation from Afghanistan and the autumn of Kabul to the Taliban, that the US would preserve its means to function in the nation, even when US troops had been now not on the bottom.

“We are developing a counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on any direct threats to the United States in the region, and act quickly and decisively if needed,” he stated on July 8.

Escape from Kabul: Inside the volunteer effort by US troops to rescue their families from Afghanistan

But lawmakers have questioned the White House’s means to fulfil that promise. The Pentagon has repeatedly stated the US can proceed to combat terrorism in the area via over-the-horizon capabilities, however the Defense Department has not stated the place these capabilities will likely be headquartered in the area.

“They’re building the plane as they fly it,” one Senate aide informed CNN of what Pentagon officers have shared about over-the-horizon plans.

On Thursday, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, stated the US is “in a worse place to understand and track the terrorist threats coming from Afghanistan,” following a categorized briefing on Afghanistan. The briefing included a dialogue of over-the-horizon capabilities, in accordance to a Senate Armed Services Committee aide.

Inhofe stated in a assertion that the briefing “confirmed” that the US “is now less safe than before Biden’s disastrous decision to unconditionally and entirely withdraw from Afghanistan.”

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