The Biden administration blamed Trump for the Chaotic Withdrawal from Afghanistan

World | April 7, 2023, Friday // 12:33
Bulgaria: The Biden administration blamed Trump for the Chaotic Withdrawal from Afghanistan @Wikimedia Commons

US President Joe Biden's administration has blamed his predecessor Donald Trump for the deadly and chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in 2021, leading to one of the darkest moments of Biden's presidency, the Associated Press reported.

As the Afghan government fell, there were scenes of despair at Kabul airport as huge crowds tried to flee the Taliban, the BBC recalled.

On August 26, an attack on the airport by two suicide bombers killed 170 Afghans and 13 American soldiers. The US carried out a drone strike in Kabul days later, saying the target was a suicide bomber but acknowledging the missile killed 10 civilians, including seven children.

The White House released a 12-page summary of the results of a discussion and assessment of US policies surrounding the end of the country's longest war, taking little responsibility for its own actions and saying Biden was "severely constrained" by Trump's decisions, AP points out.

The administration said the detailed analyzes conducted by the State Department and the Pentagon, which were turned over to Congress yesterday, are highly classified and will not be released publicly.

"President Biden's choices about how to conduct the withdrawal from Afghanistan were severely constrained by the conditions created by his predecessor," the White House document said, noting that when Biden took office, "the Taliban were at their strongest military position since 2001, controlling or fighting for almost half of the country". "The outgoing administration has not provided any plans on how to carry out the final withdrawal or to evacuate Americans or Afghan allies," the document, also cited by Reuters, said.

The report highlighted the intelligence community's overly optimistic assessments of the Afghan military's readiness to fight and said Biden had followed military commanders' recommendations on the pace of the drawdown of US forces.

The 12-page summary blamed part of the chaos on the withdrawal and evacuation operation on flawed US intelligence and military assessments that failed to predict the speed of the Taliban takeover and predicted that Afghan security forces would hold Kabul.

"By May 2021, the assessment was still that Kabul was unlikely to come under serious pressure until late 2021, once US troops had left," the summary said.

The withdrawal timeline notes that successive troop cuts ordered by Trump left 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan when Biden took office in January 2021. The result was that the Taliban were in control or fighting for half the country.

Faced with the choice of delaying the withdrawal or increasing the number of US forces and facing new Taliban attacks, Biden chose the former and ordered the planning of a withdrawal and evacuation operation, the summary said.

"Obviously we didn't get it right," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said yesterday, but avoided questions about whether Biden regretted the decisions and actions that led to the recall.

Kirby said of the report that its "purpose is not to seek accountability" but rather "to understand" what happened.

The White House has argued that missteps from Afghanistan underpinned its actions in Ukraine, where the Biden administration is credited with supporting Kyiv's defense against Russian invasion. The White House says it simulated worst-case scenarios ahead of the February 2022 invasion and began releasing intelligence about Moscow's intentions months in advance.

In an apparent attempt to protect national security decision-making, the Biden administration also noted that it released the pre-war warnings over "strong objections from senior officials in the Ukrainian government."

Republicans in Congress have sharply criticized the withdrawal from Afghanistan, highlighting the death of 13 service members in a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul.

Kirby credited US forces for their actions in conducting the largest-ever air evacuation of civilians during the chaos of the fall of Kabul.

Biden points out that the US was forced to withdraw from Afghanistan because of the February 2020 agreement that Trump reached with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar. After the Doha agreement, the Afghan government released about 5,000 Taliban prisoners as a condition for holding peace talks with the Taliban.

The agreement required the US to withdraw all its forces by May 1, 2021.

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