The chaos in Afghanistan could have reportedly been avoided altogether if President Joe Biden had accepted the Taliban’s initial offer for the U.S. to have full control of Kabul and the airport.
According to a report from the Washington Post, as the Taliban began taking control of Afghanistan, senior U.S. military leaders met with Taliban political leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha, Qatar, where an offer was made for the United States to have control of Kabul until all U.S. troops had withdrawn; the offer was declined. From the report:
In a hastily arranged in-person meeting, senior U.S. military leaders in Doha – including McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command – spoke with Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the Taliban’s political wing.
“We have a problem,” Baradar said, according to the U.S. official. “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.”
Throughout the day, Biden had remained resolute in his decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan. The collapse of the Afghan government hadn’t changed his mind.
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.
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.
As the days unfolded, the security in Kabul became increasingly hostile, culminating in the terrorist attack last week that killed 13 American servicemembers and 160 Afghans. According to a report from Politico last week, the Biden administration entrusted the Taliban so intensely with securing the city that they were allegedly given a list of names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies in the region.
When pressed about this list, Biden did not deny its existence:
There have been occasions where our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said, for example, “This bus is coming through with X number of people on it made up of the following group of people. We want you to let that bus or that group through.”
So yes there have been occasions like that, and to the best of my knowledge, in those cases, when the bulk of that has occurred, they have been let through. But I can’t tell you with any certitude that there has actually been a list of names. There may have been, but I know of no circumstance. That doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.
Republicans on Twitter seized on the Washington Post’s report and put the Biden administration on blast for not taking the Taliban’s initial offer:
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. https://t.co/qmrWSgJpmn
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) August 29, 2021
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 – not even a threat- all have to fired..Sec’y of state in Hamptons as war was lost!! https://t.co/E4cfnoYOaN
— Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) August 29, 2021