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Biden Afghanistan report mostly blames Trump for chaotic US withdrawal

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(Last Updated On: April 7, 2023)

President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday released a summary of classified reports that mostly blamed the chaotic August 2021 US pullout from Afghanistan on his predecessor, Donald Trump, for failing to plan for the withdrawal he had agreed on with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA).

The Democratic administration’s summary, drawn from top-secret State Department and Pentagon reviews sent to Congress, ignited angry reactions from Republican lawmakers who have demanded the documents for their own investigation of the pullout, Reuters reported.

Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee, strongly criticized the administration. Biden ordered the pullout and was “responsible for the massive failures in planning and execution,” McCaul said in a statement.

McCaul, who is overseeing the Republican probe, charged that his multiple threats to subpoena the State Department and Pentagon reviews, which were completed last year, finally compelled the administration to send them to Congress.

“President Biden’s choices for how to execute a withdrawal from Afghanistan were severely constrained by conditions created by his predecessor,” said the summary of the reviews. “The outgoing administration provided no plans for how to conduct the final withdrawal or to evacuate Americans or Afghan allies.”

The document acknowledged that the administration learned lessons from the withdrawal, and now errs on the side of “aggressive communication” about risks in a destabilized security environment, read the report.

The withdrawal that ended America’s longest war saw tens of thousands of Afghans desperate to flee a return of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) rule besiege Kabul’s international airport, some handing babies to US troops or breaking in and hanging onto departing aircraft, Reuters reported.

The Trump administration also “gutted” refugee support services and virtually halted the processing of Special Immigration Visas for thousands of Afghans seeking evacuation because they worked for the US government, leaving a massive backlog, the summary said.

“Transitions matter. That’s the first lesson learned here. And the incoming administration wasn’t afforded much of one,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told a White House briefing.

The 12-page summary placed some responsibility for the chaos of the pullout and evacuation operation on flawed US intelligence and military assessments that failed to foresee the speed of the IEA takeover and predicted that Afghan security forces would hold Kabul, read the report.

“As late as May 2021, the assessment was still that Kabul would probably not come under serious pressure until late 2021 after US troops departed,” the summary said.

Pressed on whether Biden bore any responsibility for the Kabul airport disorder, Kirby replied, “Just by dint as the commander in chief, he assumed responsibility for the orders he gives.”

The 20-year war in Afghanistan, the longest conflict involving US troops, was started under President George W. Bush and furthered under President Barack Obama. Over 100,000 people were killed and about 3 million displaced, according to data from the nonpartisan Costs of War project at Brown University.

Biden pledged during his 2020 campaign to end “forever wars” and withdraw from Afghanistan, although he postponed the pullout to which Trump had agreed by three months until the end of August 2021. The US-backed Kabul government collapsed on Aug. 15 as the IEA were entering the city.

The disorganization and chaos as the US left raised questions about Biden’s leadership, the quality of US intelligence and America’s commitment to human rights and thousands of Afghan citizens it had relied on, read the report.

A Daesh suicide bomber on Aug. 26, 2021, killed 13 US service members and 170 Afghans as they clustered outside a gate of the airport.

Thousands of American citizens, greencard holders, and Afghans who had applied for Special Immigration Visas were unable to leave on the largest US airlift on record.

Altogether, some 100,000 Americans, greencard holders and Afghans – many of whom were not vetted – were flown out before the US withdrawal ended just shy of the 20th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, Reuters reported.

The Trump administration agreed in a February 2020 accord with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), on the pullout of all US-led international forces by May 2021. The IEA agreed to stop attacking American troops and hold peace talks with the Western-backed Kabul government.

In laying out the withdrawal chronology, the summary said that successive troop reductions ordered by Trump had left 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan when Biden took office in January 2021. The result was that the IEA controlled or contested half the country, the summary said.

Faced with the choice of delaying the pullout or increasing the number of US forces and facing renewed IEA attacks, Biden chose the former and ordered planning for the withdrawal and evacuation operation, the summary said.

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US understands importance of Chabahar Port for Afghanistan: India

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(Last Updated On: May 18, 2024)

The United States understands the importance of Chabahar Port for continued humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan and to provide the country economic alternatives, India’s foreign ministry said on Friday.

 India recently signed a 10-year agreement to develop and operate Iran’s strategic Chabahar Port as New Delhi aims to boost trade ties with landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asian countries, bypassing ports in its western neighbour and arch foe Pakistan.

But the deal has prompted a thinly veiled threat of sanctions from the United States, with whom India has developed close economic and military ties in recent decades.

India’s foreign ministry spokesman, Randhir Jaiswal, noted that since 2018, India has supplied 85,000 metric tons of wheat, 200 metric tons of pulses and 40,000 litres of pesticide Malathion to Afghanistan through Chabahar Port.

“The United States also has an understanding…understands the importance of Chabahar Port for continued humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan and to provide Afghanistan economic alternatives,” he said in a press conference.

“Our External Affairs Minister also spoke on this matter in several forums recently, where he said that we should not take a narrow view of this particular project, it has an important role to play as far as the region is concerned, connectivity is concerned, particularly for the landlocked countries in the area,” he added.

He also said that Russia‘s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, met with an Indian delegation led by Joint Secretary, J.P. Singh, who looks after Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, in the Ministry of External Affairs, essentially exchange of views on the ground and the situation and how the two countries look at the situation.

He said that they emphasized on the need to provide development assistance and humanitarian support to the people of Afghanistan.

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Nicaragua president sends letter of condolence to IEA leader after floods

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(Last Updated On: May 18, 2024)

The Afghan Embassy in China announced Saturday that the President of Nicaragua has sent a letter of condolence to the leader of the Islamic Emirate, Mawlawi Hebatullah Akhundzada, following the recent deadly floods in Afghanistan.

Based on the embassy’s statement, the letter was handed over by Michael Campbell, the Nicaraguan ambassador to China, to Bilal Karimi, the Afghan ambassador to China.

In the letter, Nicaragua president, Daniel Ortega, while expressing his sympathy over the floods, expressed his interest in establishing good relations with the Islamic Emirate and cooperation in various fields.

The Nicaraguan ambassador stated that the Nicaraguan people, like the Afghans, achieved independence after a hard struggle against the colonialists, which is a common point between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Bilal Karimi, Afghanistan’s ambassador to China, has said that he will convey the condolence letter of the President of Nicaragua to the leader of the Islamic Emirate. He also assured of maintaining good relations with the country.

Karimi emphasized that all Latin American countries are important, but Nicaragua’s taking the initiative is a positive and admirable move.

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UN Doha meeting should reflect realities of Afghanistan: Iranian envoy

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(Last Updated On: May 18, 2024)

Iran’s special representative for Afghanistan, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, said in a meeting with his Italian counterpart that the next UN-convened meeting on Afghanistan should reflect the realities of the country.

Qomi said that Tehran is ready to work with Europe on the development of a comprehensive cooperation plan for Afghanistan based on the consultations it has conducted.

He added that the topics of the third meeting of special envoys on Afghanistan in Doha should be based on the realities of the region and Afghanistan.

“The actions of countries outside the region have not been useful in solving the crisis and challenges of Afghanistan so far, and if this situation continues, Europe will also be plagued by the problems,” he said.

The last meeting of the United Nations on Afghanistan was held in Doha in February this year, but it failed to achieve its primary objectives.

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