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US passport at Taliban request could have stopped troop withdrawal chaos

WASHINGTON — The US made a fatal mistake last year when it turned down the Taliban’s offer to allow American troops to secure Kabul during their botched exit, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee argued in a statement released this week Report.

After the Western-backed Afghan government collapsed on August 15, 2021, Taliban officials told senior American military officials they would stay away from Kabul if the US agreed to secure the city, and “told the Americans, ‘We want that you take them. ‘” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said in the 115-page report.

Instead, the US declined, opting to have Taliban fighters provide security in the city – something former senior defense officials told McCaul’s team “would have allowed the US military not to rely on the Taliban.” to secure the perimeter of Hamid Karzai International Airport”. the center of the evacuation effort.

Security forces are investigating the aftermath of a bomb blast that killed three people outside a bakery on Nawi Sarak Road in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Security forces are investigating the aftermath of a bomb blast that killed three people outside a bakery on Nawi Sarak Road in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
MARCUS YAM/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

“[That was] a task the Taliban failed to perform, leading to the ISIS-K attack that killed 13 US soldiers, wounded 45 other US soldiers and killed 160 Afghans,” the report said, referring to the August 26 suicide bombing just outside the airport.

Allowing the US and its allies to secure Kabul could have prevented the shortages and the gathering of hopeful evacuees outside the airport, McCaul claimed, adding that processing centers could have been set up far from the airport gates to avoid frequent closures by gangs to avoid crowds.

That crowd ultimately made the airport an ideal target for the Aug. 26 attack on its Abbey Gate, according to the report.

“The chaos at the gates and the Taliban’s inability to control the perimeter meant US military personnel were huddled tightly as they attempted to screen those being evacuated, leaving them in a more vulnerable position to be exploited by the bombers and contributed to the high number of casualties,” the report said.

Even if the bombing could not have been prevented, the number of casualties could have been significantly reduced if the US had not relied on the Taliban to provide security outside the airport perimeter, McCaul said.

“The lack of planning by the Biden administration and its refusal to accept the Taliban’s offer to keep Kabul during the [mission] directly led to the bombing being so deadly,” McCaul said in the report.

General Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, told Congress last September that he had turned down the Taliban’s offer to allow American troops to secure the city because he “didn’t have the resources to carry out the mission.” .

Rep. Michael McCaul
Rep. Michael McCaul said that allowing the US and allies to secure Kabul could have prevented the gathering of evacuees, ultimately making the airport an ideal target for an attack.
Bill Clark/CQ Appeal via Getty Imag

“That wasn’t why I was there; that wasn’t my order,” McKenzie said.

While McKenzie told Fox News on September 4, 2021 that securing Kabul would have required about 15,000 to 20,000 additional US troops on the ground, the report argued that those numbers “were based on a need to fight the Taliban for control of the city.” battle”.

“That probably wouldn’t have been necessary since it was the Taliban leadership who asked the US to secure the city,” McCaul wrote.

According to the report, had the US asked its NATO allies to join the effort, fewer American troops would have been required. However, President Biden’s administration did not share the offer with allies, British officials told investigators, “although Britain has reportedly explored the establishment of an international stabilization force for Kabul without the US”.

An unnamed senior defense official told Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the military drew up plans for US leaders in Kabul because they believed the White House had “banned” it. [them] refrain from considering such an offer,” the report said.

This point was supported by consistent statements from the administration both before and after the end of the evacuation on August 30, 2021.

Relatives of a victim killed in the bombings at the entrance to Kabul airport attend the funeral on the outskirts of Kabul.
Relatives of a victim killed in the bombings at the entrance to Kabul airport attend the funeral on the outskirts of Kabul.
MARCUS YAM/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
A plane takes off as Taliban militants secure the outer perimeter next to the American-controlled side of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
A plane takes off as Taliban militants secure the outer perimeter next to the American-controlled side of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
MARCUS YAM/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

“Our goal has never been — and the President has made this very clear — to have a military presence to control Kabul,” then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Aug. 31, 2021.

Despite the death toll and the chaos of the evacuation, Biden has repeatedly defended his decision to lean on the Taliban to secure Kabul.

“Asked President Biden if he thought it was a mistake to hand over responsibility for external security at the airport to the Taliban [on Aug. 26] says, “No, I don’t,” while continuing to emphasize that it is in the “interests” of the Taliban to cooperate on the evacuation,” McCaul wrote, “even though the US government knew at the time that such cooperation would was no longer a reality.”

https://nypost.com/2022/08/18/us-pass-on-taliban-ask-could-have-stopped-troop-pullout-chaos/ US passport at Taliban request could have stopped troop withdrawal chaos

JACLYN DIAZ

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