U.S. Has Hung Afghanistan ‘Out to Dry,’ Ex-Ambassador Says
(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration is abandoning Afghanistan’s government in its hour of need and all but giving the country to Taliban fighters through its decision to withdraw troops, a former U.S. ambassador said Wednesday.
“This is a handover to the Taliban,” Ryan Crocker, who served as ambassador to Afghanistan during the Obama administration, said in an interview on Bloomberg TV’s “Balance of Power With David Westin.” The Afghan government, he said, now perceives “rightly that we have hung them out to dry. We did a deal with their enemy.”
Taliban fighters have taken control of a number of provincial capitals in recent days as the U.S. completes its plan to withdraw remaining troops by the end of the month, ahead of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.
“It is ironic that as we approach the 20th anniversary of those attacks we are handing the country over to those who sheltered the al-Qaeda planners who put the whole thing together for 9/11,” Crocker said. “We are watching history repeat in a very bad way.”
The speed of the Taliban’s march has surprised even senior U.S. officials, who had anticipated a takeover, if it happened, could take at least six months.
In a briefing on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. is “closely watching the deteriorating security conditions in parts of the country, but no particular outcome, in our view, is inevitable.” She said the Taliban has to “make an assessment of what they want their role to be in the international community.”
Crocker offered sharp criticism of the Trump administration’s decision to negotiate with the Taliban as former President Donald Trump sought to deliver on an Afghanistan troop withdrawal. The veteran diplomat also lambasted President Joe Biden’s argument that the Taliban will need to form an inclusive government or lose international legitimacy.
“The Taliban was the one Islamic group that could force the United States to retreat,” Crocker said. “That is worth way more to them than any level of international legitimacy.”
But State Department spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday that U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad will meet separately in Doha with the Taliban and Afghan leaders on Thursday to seek a reduction of violence.
“What we are doing is galvanizing the international community, supporting these intra-Afghan discussions, to attempt to make progress,” Price said.
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