Families of Americans held in Afghanistan and Russia worry about the consequences of Biden’s tough foreign policy


Key announcements from the Biden administration this week on the unveiling of the United States military presence in Afghanistan and strict action against Russia have left the families of Americans detained wrongly in those countries that the move poses a further threat to security Has put in their loved ones.

Charlene Kakora’s brother, Mark Fryrichs, was kidnapped in late January 2020 in Kabul, where he was working the contract. The friarics, a naval veteran from Illinois, are believed to be held by the Haqqani network, which is closely linked to the Taliban.

Now, with the imminent withdrawal of American troops, Kakora said he believed “it stamps the mark on time.”

“We have 150 days to bring him home or we have been taken advantage of,” she said.

With the Taliban getting its desired result – the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan – there are strong concerns that the US will be left without leverage to try to bring Fritch home.

A senior administration official said that this week, telling reporters that US departure from the country would not be situation-based, “the president has decided that a situation-based approach, which has been the approach for the last two decades, is a recipe.” To live in Afghanistan forever. “

“What does this mean for Mark? It means that our government has disappointed us,” said Kakora, “President Biden, I know you want the soldiers home, but if Mark was your son What will happen?”

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalizad Said last year He brought the Frisch case to a conversation with the Taliban, but the militant group claimed they did not have it. It is unclear whether Khalilzad pressured the Taliban for more information since his refusal. The american government is to reward Up to $ 5 million for information leading to recovery.

Following the withdrawal announcement, the future of US-Taliban talks is now unclear.

‘Why would they give you something back?’

“Whatever leverage we have with the Taliban, we have just announced that we have none,” said Peter Bergen, vice president of New America and CNN National Security Analyst.

“One thing we want is that we are just guaranteeing that we are doing it,” he told CNN. “I think that goes to the broader issue of our ability to influence their decision making about anything, including American hostages.”

“If you have a conversation situation, we’re going to give you everything you want, then on the other side, why would they give it back to you?” Bergen added.

Rep. Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican who served as a Special Forces officer in Afghanistan, said that “we not only took our advantage with this announcement, we are withdrawing our ability to protect him if our intelligence community gives him Can find. “

“I can’t imagine how the family feels, much less how he feels, because one of the things – went through this training and understanding mentality as a green beret but still held hostage – The hostage taker. He said, “Your country doesn’t care about you, they’re not coming to get you, and you don’t mind,” he said. “So I think it’s a terrible situation all around. is.”

A State Department spokesman told CNN that “Frerichus has spent more than a year in captivity” and that he “will not stop working until (they) return to their safe house.”

The day after the declaration of Afghanistan, the Biden administration announced Strict action against Moscow, Including sanctions and expulsion of Russian diplomats in response to a wide range of misconduct by Moscow. Russia retaliated on Friday, expelled 10 US diplomats and approved eight senior US officials
Trevor Reid who is being held in Russia was featured alongside former President Barack Obama.
The parents of another American captive, Trevor reidSaid, they are concerned about the impact of the tension between Washington and Moscow on their son.

Family spokesman Jonathan Franks said, “The family is concerned that Trevor may be subjected to hostilities or that it will prolong the process.”

The family, who said they were not raising the head that the action was coming, also wondered why no action was taken against the Russians, who unjustly detained their son and the authorities worsened the situation .

“If the US is going to nominate Russian individuals for human rights abuses, it would be good to see the Magnitsky Act implemented for those involved in Travis’s unjust detention, including judges and prosecutors that have happened,” Franks Told CNN on Thursday

Brother of Paul wrestler, An American detained in Russia for more than two years, told CNN that the family is “clearly concerned that, when the Russian Federation responds, it will reduce the number of Americans working at the US embassy . “
Paul Whelan, a former US maritime detective accused and arrested in Russia in December 2018, carries a message as he stands inside the defendant;  Cage before the hearing in October 2019.

David Whelan said on Thursday, “Paul could possibly make it harder to get consular support as resources have become thin once again.”

However, he mentioned that this was not the first installment of the sanctions the US had imposed on Russia since Paul was imprisoned, “and that” they would certainly have no greater influence on his case than others. ”

“On balance, I expect the prospect of a summit and an attempt to reestablish strong ties between the Russian Federation and the US, decades ago,” said David Pahalan. “If there were only news restrictions this week, we can expect Paul’s wrongful detention to remain unauthorized by any country. The sanctions may be one step back, but the prospect of a summit is two steps ahead. “

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has taken a personal interest in the hostages and detainees case, and Talked to family Early in his tenure as a top US diplomat.

However, some families are wondering how this issue is failing in the administration’s overall foreign policy agenda and how this week’s move will affect their loved ones.

White House press secretary Jane Saki said on Thursday that “in every relationship we have, when it is unfavorable or even when it is not, we will be able to go through our diplomatic conversations with American citizens or even our Raises issues of custody of allies and citizens around the world. “

A State Department spokesman told CNN that Blinken “made it clear that Americans have been wrongly detained or held hostage, that this is not an ideology and that their safety and recovery is part of any policy discussion.” ”

The spokesman said, “We Americans’ families have been unfairly detained or held hostage. It is our job to be transparent with families, especially when our policies are making headlines.”

Bergen stated that “every situation is very different and they are all very complex.”

“Usually the thoughts around the hostages are not the first things that are on the negotiating table,” he told CNN Friday. However, Bergen said that having a “terrible relationship” with another country does not necessarily leave the citizens in their custody.

This story has been updated with comments from a spokesperson for the State Department.

Phil Mattingly of CNN contributed to this report.

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