U.S. ‘willfully ceded’ security of Kabul to Taliban during evacuation: report

The Biden administration gave up the opportunity to provide security around the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan in the days prior to the deadly bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members last week, deciding instead to leave that responsibility to the Taliban, according to a report published Sunday.

The Washington Post noted that a security “void” developed as the Afghan government and military collapsed in the face of a Taliban onslaught, as the militant group’s fighters began to converge on the capital city “with reports of armed gangs moving through the streets.”

The paper went on to describe a “hastily arranged in-person meeting” between senior U.S. military and Taliban leaders in Doha, Qatar, where the militant group has long had a presence. The meeting included CENTCOM commander Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, whose area of responsibility includes Afghanistan, and Abdul Ghani Baradar, chief of the Taliban’s political arm.

“We have a problem,” the Taliban leader said, according to a U.S. official who spoke to the Post. “We have two options to deal with it: You [the United States military] take responsibility for securing Kabul or you have to allow us to do it.”

The Post said that throughout that day, President Joe Biden “remained resolute in his decision” to pull all American forces out of the country and that after the Afghan government disintegrated, his mind had not changed.

McKenzie, then, had no choice but to follow the commander-in-chief’s policy decision — or resign.

He chose the former.

“McKenzie, aware of those orders, told Baradar that the U.S. mission was only to evacuate American citizens, Afghan allies and others at risk. The United States, he told Baradar, needed the airport to do that,” the Post reported.

“On the spot, an understanding was reached, according to two other U.S. officials: The United States could have the airport until Aug. 31. But the Taliban would control the city,” the paper added.

The Post’s revelation that the U.S. had the opportunity to keep control of Kabul long enough to evacuate, with the Taliban’s blessing, is causing new reverberations throughout the country as well as renewed criticism of the Biden administration, which was already under heavy fire for the loss of more than a dozen U.S. military personnel on Thursday.

“The result of this decision by President Biden & Gen. McKenzie is that Khalil Haqqani—an al Qaeda-linked terrorist with a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head—was placed in charge of security of Kabul,” National Review correspondent John McCormack noted on Twitter.

“[Washington Post] reports that Taliban offered to stay out of Kabul and let US forces secure the city. We told them we only needed the airport. We could have controlled the airport and Kabul and evacuated everyone but chose not to. The incompetence is stunning,” Post columnist and American Enterprise Institute fellow Marc Theissen added in a post containing a screengrab of the paper’s published report.

According to reports prior to Thursday’s attack, which left 11 Marines, two Army soldiers, and a Navy corpsman dead, Taliban fighters were in control of checkpoints and approaches to the airport. Critics of the way in which the U.S. was withdrawing pointed out that militarily, it was impossible for the deployed soldiers and Marines at the airport to adequately defend themselves by being in such close proximity to thousands of Afghanis attempting to get into the airport and catch a flight out.

“If the reports are true, and the Biden administration willfully gave control of Kabul to the Taliban, they have yet again shown their complicity for a terrorist takeover,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) tweeted.

“Want to know what incompetence looks like ? Read this? We could have kept Kabul..we only asked for airport, It was Austins decision to leave Embasey [sic] – not even a threat- all have to fired..Sec’y of state in Hamptons as war was lost!!” added Fox News co-host Brian Kilmeade.

Jon Dougherty

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