US under fire for withdrawing from Afghanistan in the dead of night

Tajikistan has positions troops at its border in anticipation of Taliban attacks

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 06 July 2021 21:09 BST
Joe Biden refuses to answer questions on Afghanistan
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The US military left Afghanistan in the dead of night without even saying goodbye, coming under fire for the rushed and chaotic withdrawal.

Bagram Airfield’s new Afghan commander only became aware of the absence two hours after the US skipped out.

The military news site Task & Purposedidn’t mince words in summing up the situation: “The US withdrawal from Afghanistan is a giant clusterf–k”. The article references a satirical headline from The Onion predicting exactly such a move back in 2011.

After 20 years of fire fights, suicide bombings, IEDs, and "winning hearts and minds”, the US is pulling its troops out of Afghanistan, abandoning those "hearts and minds" to the Taliban emboldened by its retreat.

US intelligence sources have predicted, in some cases, that Kabul may fall to the Taliban within six months of the US withdrawal. The Taliban has already begun retaking sections of the country. More than 50 of the nation's 400 districts have been conquered by the Taliban since May, prompting locals to organise militias in hopes of fighting off the extremist fighters.

Joe Biden remains steadfast in his determination to end the US involvement in Afghanistan by 11 September, but it is unlikely he will please anyone with the decision.

US military commanders have already warned that the pullout will embolden the Taliban's campaign to retake the country.

US Army General Austin Scott Miller, the top US military official overseeing the withdrawl, told ABC's This Week that the optics of the Taliban's rapid and unchecked expansion may crush the hopes and the will to fight of the Afghani people.

"And so, as you watch the Taliban moving across the country, what you don't want to have happen is that the people lose hope and they believe they now have a foregone conclusion presented to them," he said.

Mr Miller said he did not like leaving "his friends" in need, and said that it was clear that "his friends" were in need.

Some congressional leaders are also skeptical of the move, and criticism unsurprisingly fell along party lines.

Congressman Michael McCaul, the senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Fox News that the fall of the country to the Taliban and any resulting issues will be blood on Mr Biden's hands.

"When we fully withdraw, the devastation, and the killings, and women, humanitarian crisis fleeing across border of Pakistan – President Biden's going to own these ugly images," he said.

He claimed his issue was less that the US was leaving and more that it was doing so without a proper plan in place to ensure that Afghanistan does not turn into a post-war Iraq, which notably was the breeding ground for ISIS.

"All the top experts I talk to, that's their greatest fear – is that he may be doing this for political purposes. But at some point, our vital interests are ISIS and al Qaeda. And we are going to give them a safe haven as the Taliban takes over that nation and that vacuum is going to be filled by terrorists," the congressman said. "And I'm concerned that we will be going back."

There has already been fallout from the decision; Afghan troops have allegedly been filmed surrendering to Taliban fighters. Other footage shows Taliban fighters showing off American weapons that they have commandeered in the wake of the US retreat.

Though the Afghan military has seen some successes, the speed at which the Taliban is advancing and reports of Afghan forces fleeing their posts has prompted nearby Tajikistan to bolster its borders with its own military in anticipation of further aggression.

Democrats, Republicans and the media all share the blame for what is happening in Afghanistan. The Republicans under President George W Bush led the US into Iraq and Afghanistan based on lies and unchecked nationalism uncritically parroted by journalists at the time. Democrats, with notable exceptions, fell in line with the Republican administration's call for war.

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