The US administration has blamed the hasty withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in the wake of the 2021 Taliban takeover on former President Donald Trump, saying that President Joe Biden was “severely constrained” by his predecessor’s decisions, including the 2020 Doha Agreement to end the war.
This was revealed in a new report which was put together by the White House National Security Council with input from Biden and made available to the public on Thursday.
It says that when Biden took office in January 2021, he “believed the right thing for the country was to end the longest war in American history and bring American troops home”.
But “Biden’s choices for how to execute a withdrawal from Afghanistan were severely constrained by conditions created by his predecessor”, the report said.
“When Trump took office in 2017, there were more than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan. Eighteen months later, after introducing more than 3,000 additional troops just to maintain the stalemate, he ordered direct talks with the Taliban without consulting with our allies and partners or allowing the Afghan government at the negotiating table.
“In September 2019, Trump embolden the Taliban by publicly considering inviting them to Camp David on the anniversary of 9/11. In February 2020, the US and the Taliban reached a deal, known as the Doha Agreement, under which Washington agreed to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan by May 2021.
“In return, the Taliban agreed to participate in a peace process and refrain from attacking US troops and threatening Afghanistan’s major cities, but only as long as the US remained committed to withdrawing by the agreement’s deadline,” it added.
The report goes on to say that as part of the agreement, the former President had also pressured the Afghan government to release 5,000 Taliban fighters from prison, “without securing the release of the only American hostage known to be held by the Taliban”.
Over his last 11 months in office, Trump ordered a series of drawdowns of American troops and by June 2020, he reduced personnel in Afghanistan to 8,600.
The report mentions that there was an unclassified signed order directing the US military to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan no later than January 15, 2021. One week later, that order was rescinded and replaced with one to draw down to 2,500 troops by the same date.
During the transition period, the outgoing Trump administration “provided no plans for how to conduct the final withdrawal or to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies”, claims the report.
“As a result, when President Biden took office on January 20, 2021, the Taliban were in the strongest military position that they had been in since 2001, controlling or contesting nearly half of the country. At the same time, the US had only 2,500 troops on the ground — the lowest number of troops in Afghanistan since 2001,” it said.
The deadly pull-out in August 2021 ended America’s longest war. When the Afghan government collapsed on August 15, 2021, there were desperate scenes at Kabul airport as huge crowds tried to flee the Taliban.
On August 26, an attack at the airport by two suicide bombers killed 170 Afghans and 13 US soldiers as the American troops were scrambling to evacuate more than 120,000 people in a matter of days.
Responding to the report, Trump shot back on social media, 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.