National Security

Cheney: ‘Irresponsible’ to Trust Taliban Won’t Allow Al Qaeda Safe Haven

Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) said on Sunday that the Taliban will not live up to any deal they might negotiate with the United States.

"The Taliban will not live up to any negotiated deal that we set with them," Cheney said. "The notion that we're somehow going to have a negotiated deal with the Taliban–that we can take their word that they won't allow al Qaeda to have safe havens again–is, in my view, irresponsible."

President Donald Trump and his administration is in the midst of possible peace talks with Taliban leaders. The administration hopes to strike a deal that would allow the Taliban and the Afghan government to exist side by side. Some fear, however, that if the U.S. withdraws forces from the country, the Taliban will overthrow the Afghan government.

Cheney, the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, argued on CNN's "State of the Union" that the United States doesn't end a war by withdrawing prematurely.

"I think that in the same way that we saw with President Obama, you do not end a war by withdrawing from the battlefield. When President Obama did that and he withdrew our forces from Iraq precipitously, you ended up with civil war in Syria, you ended up with the rise of ISIS, you ended up with the caliphate. I don't want to see us go down that path again. I think it's very important for us to remember, al Qaeda is embedded with the Taliban in Afghanistan," Cheney said.

During his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump pledged he would not have the United States involved in endless wars and would withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and Afghanistan. Cheney has been critical of the Trump administration's plan to withdraw from Syria in the past and warned that withdrawing troops might allow ISIS to regroup.

"Why not bring the troops home?" host Jake Tapper asked Cheney.

"I think several things. Number one, we've done tremendous work, both in Syria, as well as in Afghanistan. But in Syria, the issue is not the territorial control. In Syria, the issue is whether or not we're able to ensure that ISIS doesn't reconstitute … So when you have a situation like we have now, where you have seen the caliphate, as the president is saying, there will be this announcement that the caliphate has been 100  percent taken back. I hope that's right. But, we can't be fooled into thinking, ‘if we just withdraw the troops now and come home, ISIS won't reconstitute,'" Cheney said.

"We've got to ensure we do everything necessary to prevent them from forming safe havens. We know there are significant numbers of ISIS fighters still in Syria today. And we don't want to have to go back again. That would come at a much greater cost of lives and treasure," Cheney added.

Several senators, including Trump allies like Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), have urged the president to rethink his decision to quickly pull out of Syria.

"We've got to ensure that our forces are there based on the conditions on the ground, not based on, frankly, what has been [Sen.] Rand Paul's approach, which is, you know, ‘I've just decided it's too long. We're going to come home.' You don't win wars that way. You don't keep the nation safe that way," Cheney said.