Former President Donald Trump described the recent events in Afghanistan as the worst humiliation in American history but defended the agreement his administration struck with the Taliban last year.
“It’s a great thing that we’re getting out, but nobody has ever handled a withdrawal worse than Joe Biden,” the former president told Fox News Tuesday.
“This is the greatest embarrassment, I believe, in the history of our country,” he said.
Trump sat down for his first interview since the Taliban marched into Kabul Sunday, climaxing a 96-hour conquest that saw Afghanistan’s major cities and provincial capitals fall with little resistance, Reuters reported.
While he was full of criticism for the Biden administration, Trump also at times echoed his successor’s address to the nation Monday, which cast blame on Afghan military and political leaders for their battlefield collapse and the resulting scenes of chaos.
“I knew they [Afghan security forces] weren’t going to fight … I said, ‘Why are they fighting? Why are these Afghan soldiers fighting against the Taliban?’” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “And I was told some very bad information by a lot of different people.
“The fact is, they’re among the highest-paid soldiers in the world. They were doing it for a paycheck, because once we stopped, once we left, they stopped fighting … The fact is, our country was paying the Afghan soldiers a fortune. So we were sort of bribing them to fight, and that’s not what it’s all about.”
By contrast, Trump repeatedly praised the Taliban as “good fighters” — at one point telling Hannity that “you have to give them credit for that” — and claimed he got along better with the Islamic fundamentalists than recently deposed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country as Taliban forces closed in, Reuters reported.
“I never had a lot of confidence, frankly, in Ghani,” the former president recalled. “I said that openly and plainly. I thought he was a total crook. I thought he got away with murder. He spent all his time wining and dining our senators. The senators were in his pocket. That was one of the problems that we had, but I never liked him, and I guess based on his escape with cash, I don’t know, maybe that’s a true story. I would suspect it is. All you have to do is look at his lifestyle, study his houses where he lives. He got away with murder in many different ways.”
In February 2020, the Trump administration announced a cease-fire agreement with the Taliban that called for the withdrawal of all US combat troops from Afghanistan by May 1 of this year. On Monday, Biden argued that his hands were tied by the agreement, Reuters reported.
“There would have been no ceasefire after May 1. There was no agreement protecting our forces after May 1. There was no status quo of stability without American casualties after May 1,” the president said. “There was only the cold reality of either following through on the agreement to withdraw our forces or escalating the conflict and sending thousands more American troops back into combat in Afghanistan, lurching into the third decade of conflict.”
Trump said Tuesday that the agreement was forged after what he called a “strong conversation” with a Taliban leader he identified as Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a contender to become the new supreme leader of the new government, Reuters reported.
“I told him up front, I said, “Look, up front, before we start, let me just tell you right now that if anything bad happens to Americans or anybody else or if you ever come over to our land, we will hit you with a force that no country has ever been hit with before, a force so great you won’t even believe it,’” he recounted.
As a result of the agreement, Trump claimed, “we lost no soldiers in the last year-and-a-half because of me and because of the understanding that we had … In Chicago and in New York and in other cities in the United States, many people die every weekend. We lost no soldiers in Afghanistan because they knew I wasn’t going to put up with it.”
Summing up two decades of American efforts in Afghanistan, Trump described the initial decision to invade in October 2001 as “the worst decision ever made” and argued that the US should have limited its retaliation for the 9/11 attacks to airstrikes, Reuters reported.
As more grim reports emerged of thousands of Americans stuck in Taliban territory, with checkpoints between them and Kabul’s international airport, Trump said: “ I looked at that big, monster cargo plane yesterday, with people grabbing the side and trying to get flown out of Afghanistan because of their fear, their incredible fear, and they’re blowing off the plane from 2,000 feet up in the air.”
“Nobody’s ever seen anything like that. That blows the helicopters in Vietnam away. That’s not even a contest. This has been the most humiliating period of time I’ve ever seen.”
Khulm district officially moved from Balkh to Samangan
Khulm district has been detached from Balkh province and is now part of Samangan province, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Mohsin Hashimi, visited the region and said that government had decided to incorporate Khulm district into Samangan province.
Hashimi said that he had been instructed to transfer administrative and security responsibilities for Khulm district to Samangan province in the presence of the governors of both the provinces and give assurances to the local people and security forces.
Balkh Governor Qudratullah Abu Hamza said that security responsibility for Khulm district has been handed over to Samangan authorities.
Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Kunduzi, the governor of Samangan, dismissed concerns that the move would affect businesses in Khulm district which has until now been part of a province that sits on vital trade routes into Central Asia
“There is no problem for investment in any province,” Kunduzi said.
Khulm district initially had been part of Samangan province, but it was moved to Balkh province during Hamid Karzai’s rule.
Russia successfully launches Iranian satellite
A Russian rocket on Tuesday successfully launched an Iranian satellite into orbit from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan, AP reported.
The Soyuz rocket lifted off as scheduled at 8:52 am Moscow time. About nine minutes after the launch, it placed the Iranian satellite called Khayyam into orbit. It’s named after Omar Khayyam, a Persian scientist who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries.
Iran has said the satellite fitted with high-resolution camera will be used for environmental monitoring and will remain fully under its control.
Tehran said no other country will have access to information it gathers and it would be used for civilian purposes only, but there have been allegations that Russia may use it for surveillance of Ukraine amid its military action there.
If it operates successfully, the satellite would give Iran the ability to monitor its archenemy Israel and other countries in the Middle East, AP reported.
Yuri Borisov, head of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos, hailed the launch as an “important landmark” in cooperation between Moscow and Tehran.
Iranian state television aired footage of the launch live, noting that the country’s telecommunications minister attended the liftoff in Kazakhstan. Tehran said the satellite will help improve productivity in the agriculture sector, survey water resources, manage natural disasters, confront deforestation and monitor border areas.
Karzai says it’s time the US corrects its mistakes in Afghanistan
Former president Hamid Karzai said this week that while Afghanistan was more secure today than a year ago, the economy was a “disaster” and that it was time for the US to “correct it’s mistakes”.
In an interview with NPR this week, Karzai discussed the current situation in the country and the events of August 15 last year.
He said at the time of the collapse of the former government and the takeover by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), he had feared for his safety, but not because of the IEA but because of external forces.
“The Taliban (IEA) are Afghans. They belong to this country. We know them, they know us. I felt external forces, and feared that more,” Karzai said, mentioning foreign countries and elements within Pakistan, in particular, NPR reported.
According to Karzai, he stayed and met with IEA leaders, and said that they all seemed to want the same thing: a peaceful and progressing Afghanistan.
“In terms of [an] end to widespread fighting and conflict, we are happy — there’s more stability, there’s more security,” Karzai said.
“But in terms of Afghanistan having a government that all Afghan people find themselves [in], we still have a way to go. In terms of the economy of the country, it’s a disaster. In terms of Afghans leaving their own country, it’s a huge disaster and a shame upon us. And this is something that the Taliban IIEA) have to address.”
Karzai told NPR the IEA acknowledges that there are problems, and that the US made “immense mistakes” in Afghanistan.
NPR reported that he is still angry about civilian casualties during the war, saying the US bombed the wrong people so often that he refuses to believe it was a mistake.
Karzai also spoke out about the chaotic withdrawal of troops and said it had been “very dishonorable.” Families were separated amidst the chaos, and some Afghans desperate to evacuate clung to a military plane as it took off. At least two people fell to their deaths, which Karzai called a “disgrace to both of us.”
He told NPR there were things the US could do to help the Afghan people now, including unfreezing the country’s financial reserves.
“I need for the United States government to correct its mistakes in Afghanistan, to help the Afghan people stand back on their feet,” he said.
Karzai also told NPR he had met IEA leaders, all of whom had expressed a desire for better relations with the US.
But he said there were things the IEA must do first to gain trust and make progress within their own country.
“We must make sure that all the Afghan people see themselves belonging to this country and represented by the government, and that we take all the necessary steps to prove to the rest of the world that we mean well for Afghanistan,” he said.
He also said girls’ education was an issue and said he was worried the ban sets the whole country back. He warned that “a decade from now we’ll be worse than what we are now.”
NPR reported that Karzai feels there are many reasons why the IEA should take steps to prove to the world that they are trying to better the country.
“That will also make it easier for someone like me to go into the international community and say, ‘Well, we’re now on the right path towards a better future and deserve support,'” he said.
But Karzai can’t go out into the international community, even if he wanted to. He said he had asked the IEA for permission to travel abroad for several functions and events, but had always been denied, NPR reported.
As they explained it to Karzai the first time, they are honored that he is in Afghanistan and fear that things will fall apart if he doesn’t come back. He said they all knew that he would come back.
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