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Biden Administration Blames Chaotic Afghan Pull-Out on Trump

US President Joe Biden’s administration has blamed its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan on his predecessor, Donald Trump, in a new report.

A 12-page summary of the report says Mr Biden was “severely constrained” by Mr Trump’s decisions, including a 2020 deal with the Taliban to end the war.

But the report also acknowledges that the government should have begun the evacuation of civilians earlier.

Mr Trump responded that the White House was playing a “disinformation game”.

The deadly pull-out in August 2021 ended America’s longest war.

Thirteen US soldiers and nearly 200 Afghans were killed as US troops scrambled to evacuate more than 120,000 people in a matter of days.

A review of decisions and actions leading up to the withdrawal, conducted by the State Department and the Pentagon, was sent privately to Congress on Thursday.

Republicans in the US House of Representatives, who are investigating the pull-out, had been demanding to see the report for weeks.

The document remains confidential, but a summary of its conclusions – put together by the White House National Security Council with input from President Biden himself – has been made available to the public.

When the Afghan government collapsed, there were desperate scenes at Kabul airport as huge crowds tried to flee the Taliban.

On 26 August, an attack at the airport by two suicide bombers killed 170 Afghans and 13 US soldiers.

The US carried out a drone strike in Kabul days later, saying it had targeted a suicide bomber, only to admit that the missile had killed 10 civilians, including seven children.

British troops were also involved in the withdrawal, which Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said at the time had put the UK “in a very difficult position”.

On Thursday, President Biden’s national security spokesman, John Kirby, blamed the chaos on a depleted operation in Afghanistan inherited from the Trump administration.

The report refers to “neglect – and in some cases deliberate degradation” by the Trump administration.

Mr Kirby said that phrase refers to the agreement the former president had struck with the insurgents a year earlier in Qatar to end the war, as well as the drawdown of US troops during Mr Trump’s tenure, the freeing of thousands of Taliban prisoners and the hollowing out of the visa program used to evacuate Afghan allies.

“Transitions matter,” said Mr Kirby, as he presented a summary of the report. “That’s the first lesson learned here. And the incoming administration wasn’t afforded much of one.”

Mr Trump shot back on social media within hours of the report’s release, accusing “Morons in the White House” of playing “a new disinformation game – Blame “TRUMP” for their grossly incompetent SURRENDER in Afghanistan”.

“Biden is responsible, no one else!” he said.

Michael McCaul, the top-ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also slammed the administration for a “brazen whitewashing of their failure in Afghanistan”.

The report implies that the evacuation of Americans and Afghans who had assisted with the war effort could have started sooner.

“We now prioritize earlier evacuations when faced with a degrading security situation,” it says on page seven.

But the report faults the Afghan government and military for these delays, together with US military and intelligence community assessments.

Mr Kirby said that Mr Biden had “acted on the best military judgment and the best assessments from the intelligence community” but “some of those assessments turned out to be wrong”.

He refused to say if the president regretted how the withdrawal was carried out, adding: “For all this talk of chaos, I just didn’t see it.”

Following the fall of Kabul, the Biden administration received searing criticism at home and abroad. Many expressed anger over the abandonment of Afghans and of US weaponry.

Some lessons had been learned from the end of the war in Afghanistan, especially around the failure to predict the sudden collapse of the Afghan government, Mr Kirby said.

He added this had influenced the US policy of supporting Ukraine ahead of Russia’s invasion.

At a heated White House press briefing, Mr Kirby was forced to defend the timing of the release just ahead of a holiday weekend in the US.

Pushed on whether any officials involved with the withdrawal would be removed from their posts as a result of the report, Mr Kirby said its purpose “is not accountability”.

Source : BBC