20 years into the US war in Afghanistan, the troops are going to leave, and the CIA is going to stay. The question right now is how that’s going to happen, and where exactly the agency is going to be basing its operations from.
There is no question that the CIA will be spying, and carrying out strikes in Afghanistan, but after decades mostly doing things out of US bases in Afghanistan, they’re going to need to find a new base, and there is no obvious choice.
Officials are describing "last-minute" efforts to find bases to operate from, which probably shouldn’t be so last-minute since the pullout has been a deal in place since at least early 2020, and could be seen coming well before that.
Pakistan is seeing consideration, as the CIA used to have a base there for their drone war. The US and Pakistan aren’t on such good terms now, however, and Pakistan reportedly wants to be able to sign off on who the CIA is attacking from their territory.
There is also a report that the CIA could try to find a host in a former Soviet republic north of Afghanistan. The upside is that those nations would be less inclined to try to manage CIA assassinations, but diplomats say they expect Russian President Vladimir Putin to oppose the idea.
CIA Director William Burns says that whatever happens, the end of US troops in Afghanistan will diminish the CIA’s ability to act there. The US clearly isn’t going to give up, wanting to maintain its ability to conduct strikes around the world, but it’s going to be complicated.