CHICAGO: Republican members of the U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee have issued a scathing rebuke of President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, citing disturbing trends including the oppression of Afghan women and the abandonment of allies.
The 151-page report titled “A Strategic Failure: Assessing the Administrations Afghanistan Withdrawal,” released Aug. 18, complements similar findings in a February 2022 report by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee titled “Left Behind: A Brief Assessment of the Biden Administration’s Strategic Failures During the Evacuation from Afghanistan.
The new report begins by citing the Taliban’s “terror regime” and the continued oppression of women. The former Taliban government gave refuge to al-Qaeda, allowing it to plan terrorist attacks that culminated in the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
“A week into the evacuation, it was clear that women and girls were at a distinct disadvantage in their attempts to get to safety. Women who attempted to walk through crowds at HKIA (Kabul International Airport) were beaten and shot for not being accompanied by a man, sexually assaulted, trampled and forced to stand in sewage for hours – to be turned away if they did not have the correct piece of paper or were not hand-picked due to a political connection,” the report said.
Worse, he concludes, Biden failed to prevent the release of “thousands of al-Qaeda, ISIS (Daesh) and Taliban prisoners from Afghan government prisons.”
Three months after taking office, Biden announced his decision to officially withdraw US forces by September 11, 2021, but according to the report, he did not take steps to prepare for the withdrawal for more than four months after. , allowing the Taliban to take power.
The report challenges Biden’s principles, in which he said he had consulted on the withdrawal with allies and senior military advisers, and that withdrawal was the only way to prevent a return to war. Biden claimed Afghan forces could defend their country without direct U.S. assistance and blamed former President Donald Trump’s 2020 Doha deal for “forced” the withdrawal.
Biden added that the US mission to kill al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and eradicate the terrorist organization had been accomplished.
“However, the minority on the committee now believe that none of those claims were accurate. And worse, President Biden was likely aware that they were not accurate when he made his case to the American people in April 2021,” the GOP leadership concluded.
“There is ample evidence, including direct testimony from US military leaders and senior NATO allies, that they supported continued deployment based on conditions in Afghanistan. They believed the best option was to keep in place an advisory and counterterrorism mission made up of 2,500 US military personnel and 6,000 troops, mostly NATO forces.
The Republican chief of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Michael McCaul, said: “There are a lot of sins, if you will. There was a total lack and failure of planning. There was no plan, and there was no plan executed… We had to rely on the Taliban to secure the HKIA perimeter. This led to chaos. And that also led to the suicide bomber who killed 13 servicemen and women and injured hundreds. And it could have been avoided. »
Biden’s failure to follow through and plan for the pullout resulted in “the Aug. 26, 2021, Abbey Gate bombing that resulted in the deaths of 13 U.S. service members and 160 Afghans, and the injury of 45 additional U.S. service members. “.
Many American citizens were left behind during the withdrawal to fend for themselves in Afghanistan.
Biden was more concerned, the report said, to avoid a repeat of the iconic image that reflected the chaos of the withdrawal from Vietnam on April 30, 1975, the last helicopter taking off from the US Embassy in Saigon, leaving thousands desperate . Vietnamese who helped the Americans fend for themselves as the Viet Cong approached. Many helicopters were pushed out of an aircraft carrier to make way for others filled with fleeing soldiers.
The withdrawal from Afghanistan “degraded” the image of the United States’ position in the world and broke the promises made to Afghans who worked for the United States that they would be rescued, but were never able to leave. A year later, no planning has ever been undertaken to save the Afghan allies.
“Since taking control, Taliban fighters have reportedly engaged in targeted revenge killings, with reports of hundreds of reprisals. Taliban militants have also seized land belonging to former government officials and minority groups such as the Hazara, threatening people with violence if they refuse to hand over their property to the Taliban,” the report details.
An investigation in April 2022 found that nearly 500 former Afghan government officials and members of the Afghan security forces “were killed or subjected to enforced disappearance during the first six months in power of the Taliban”. .
These retaliatory attacks, documented by US-based volunteer groups seeking to assist Afghan evacuees, have included “beheadings, hangings, severed limbs, whippings, bodies riddled with bullets inside of a car”.
Republican members of the committee said they plan to convene a public hearing and inquiry into the withdrawal, which can only happen if the GOP takes control of the U.S. House of Representatives, as planned in the 8 election. november.