John Bass helped advance US efforts towards Afghan peace

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: US Secretary Mike Pompeo described Ambassador John Bass’ service in Afghanistan as “exemplary,” saying he helped “advance American efforts to facilitate a political settlement in Afghanistan,” and served with “excellence and integrity.”

“As Ambassador John Bass concludes two years in Afghanistan, I am grateful for his exemplary service leading one of the world’s most challenging diplomatic missions,” Pompeo said in a tweet.

“A valued partner and counterpart, he helped to advance American efforts to facilitate a political settlement in Afghanistan. He served me, the President, and America with excellence and integrity. My most sincere thanks,” he said.

Bass will be remembered for speaking out against corruption within Afghanistan in very frank terms. Notably, last year during a power shortage due to the destruction of electricity towers by insurgents, Bass called out the Palace-run National Procurement Authority on social media over reports of their delaying procurement contracts that would have provided much-needed fuel to handle the crisis. It was also on Bass’ watch that the US State Department pulled back millions of dollars of US aid, citing corruption within the Afghan government, among other reasons.

In a recent interview, John Bass spoke to TOLOnews’ Lotfullah Najafizada about the threat of corruption:

“If I look ahead over the next couple of years, what concerns me about Afghanistan–obviously the levels of violence, the complexity of solving the conflict– but the second thing that concerns me is the number of people in this society, but particularly here in Kabul, who have a sense of entitlement about the flow of financial resources from the international community, from other governments, from taxpayers in democratic societies that will come to Afghanistan. They seem to expect that we will continue to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in funding regardless of whether it is spent well, regardless of whether it achieves the intended results because we have done so in the past.”

Also in the interview, Bass admonished those involved in the peace process to take advantage of the current opportunity for peace, saying that the international and regional politics are dynamic, and the current window may not last forever.

The New York Times reports that Ross Wilson, a retired career ambassador who was previously the top American diplomat in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia, will follow John Bass, whose two-year tenure as US envoy in Kabul ended this week.

Wilson is taking a leave of absence from the Atlantic Council think tank and the nonprofit Global Minnesota networking organization to run the embassy in Kabul until a permanent ambassador is nominated, the State Department official said as quoted by The New York Times.

The Times reported that Wilson will serve as a temporary charge d’affaires before a permanent ambassador is appointed. The report says that Wilson is expected to arrive in Kabul soon.

John Bass was serving as the US envoy in Kabul since December 2017.(TOLOnews)