Afghanistan withdrawal draws concerns over abducted American

Afghanistan withdrawal draws concerns over abducted American
FILE - In this March 9, 2020, file photo, Washington's peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: As the United States moves to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan over by September 11, concerns are growing about one American who risks being left behind.

Mark Frerichs, a contractor from the US state of Illinois, believed held for more than a year by the Haqqani network, a Taliban-affiliated group, was not mentioned in President Biden’s address on Afghanistan last week. Nor was the military withdrawal from Afghanistan, scheduled to be complete by September 11, conditioned on his release from custody, fueling concerns that the United States could lose bargaining power to get Frerichs home once its troops are removed from the country.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Rep. Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican and Green Beret who served in Afghanistan, said: “Any leverage that we had, we’ve just now announced to the world and to the Taliban and the Haqqanis that we’re going to pull out. Not only is it our leverage, it’s our military capability to rescue him. So it’s just utterly disheartening.”

The US administration has said it regards the hostages’ return to be a top priority. Despite this, the fate of a single captive American is unlikely to sway the broader policy interest in ending a two-decade-long war that began in response to the September 11, 2001, attacks.

It is common for detainee issues to be eclipsed by other foreign policy matters, as appeared to happen last week when the Biden administration did not mention Russia’s detention of two Americans, even as it announced reasons for taking punitive action against Russia.

Even so, the failure to make Frerichs’ return a factor in the withdrawal process is a source of frustration for his family, as is the fact that the former Trump administration signed a peace deal in February last year, just weeks after Frerichs vanished in Afghanistan while working on engineering projects in the country.

Charlene Cakora, his sister, said in a statement that the military withdrawal “puts a time stamp on Mark. We have 150 days to get him home or our leverage is gone.”

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