In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Secretary Hillary Clinton appeared critical of President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and stated that the U.S. “has to focus on two huge consequences” for Afghanistan. “This is what we call a wicked problem. “There are consequences both foreseen and unintended of staying and of leaving,” she told CNN.
The “potential collapse of the Afghan government and a takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban” as well as “a resumption of activities by global terrorists, most particularly by Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State” are two of the major consequences she warned. Similarly, she warned of a “civil war” in some parts of the country and “a government largely run by the Taliban in the not too distant future.” Clinton also warned of a “huge refugee outflow”
On April 13th, President Biden announced his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by 9/11/2021, on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan amidst the ongoing peace talks as well as without any conditions publicly placed on the Taliban has garnered criticism from experts, suggesting that the U.S. gave away one of the main levers in the ongoing peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Since the announcement of the decision by Biden, the Taliban leaders in Doha have not participated in negotiations with the Afghan government.
Clinton asked, “How do we help and protect the many thousands of Afghans,” those who worked and spoke up for women’s rights and human rights, and those who worked with the U.S. and NATO? In reference to the Special Immigrant Visa, she said she hopes “the Administration in concert with the Congress will set up a very large visa program.” The Special Immigrant Visa helps only those who worked with U.S. and NATO and does not include families or siblings above 18. Many hope that the Administration will expand and expedite the program to cover families as well.
Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is part of the U.S.-Taliban deal signed by the Trump Administration in February 2020. The agreement required the U.S. to withdraw by May 1. As part of the deal, the US stopped attacking Taliban hideouts by air or night raids. The Taliban in return, did not attack U.S. and allies forces and interests in Afghanistan, and that the group will enter negotiation with the Afghan government, and will reduce violence. While the Taliban did not attack U.S. and allies interests, the group increased its attacks against the Afghan forces and engaged in a large campaign of assassinating those who spoke up against the group. In a recent wave of violence, just this week, in a bomb attack in Logar province near Kabul, 30 people were killed and as many as 100 were injured. Many of the killed and wounded were students.
Afghans and their allies hoped that the Biden Administration would put pressure on the Taliban and would not leave at a time when the security situation in the country has deteriorated because of the increased attacks. The decision came as a shock and many Afghan feel abandoned by their allies once again, fearing a repeat of the history of the 1990s.
BBC 5/1/2021, CNN 5/3/2021