A senior aide to President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan complained Thursday that former President Donald Trump’s 2020 agreement with the Taliban was responsible for Kabul’s prodigious losses in the past several months because they offered the terrorist group undue “legitimacy.”
Wahid Omar, according to Afghanistan’s Tolo News, described the decision to withdraw from the country by the United States as “surprising.”
“Our reaction was that the US as a sovereign country takes its own sovereign decisions and it will have aftershocks,” Omar stated. The deal that led to that decision, he added, hurt Kabul because “the Taliban gained a legitimacy which shouldn’t have been given to them as a group.”
Trump sent former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Doha, Qatar — where the political headquarters of the Taliban are located — in the second half of 2020 to negotiate an agreement that would result in the end of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. American troops have been in the central Asian countries since Fall 2001 in response to jihadist group al-Qaeda, which at the time had a strong presence in Afghanistan, conducting several terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and killing thousands on September 11, 2001.
The Trump administration agreed to fully withdraw troops from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, in exchange for the Taliban agreeing not to attack U.S. troops and to cut ties with al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups. President Joe Biden announced in April that he would not abide by the agreement and extend the Afghan war by four months, making the new withdrawal date the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has since announced that the American military presence would instead end on August 31. The Pentagon’s decision Thursday to send 3,000 troops back into the country has raised concerns that Biden may once again change the deadline.
The Taliban responded to Biden’s move by asserting that it allowed the terrorist group to also break the agreement. Taliban jihadists launched 22,000 attacks on Afghan military targets between April, the month Biden announced he would break the deal, and July 2021, according to the country’s State Ministry for Peace. The Taliban has since claimed to have taken over about 90 percent of Afghan border territories and 85 percent of the country.
Many of the Taliban’s victories have been bloodless, as Afghan security forces have either surrendered or fled. In one particularly embarrassing incident for Kabul, over 1,000 members of its security forces fled a Taliban attack and crossed the border into Tajikistan, demanding political asylum. Alarmed Tajik officials have requested military aid from Russia to prevent an overflow of violence on its border.
Ghani’s administration has almost entirely blamed the United States for this failure. In remarks last week, the president claimed that taking 20 years to decide to leave Afghanistan was “sudden,” leaving Kabul unprepared.
“The reason for our current situation is that the decision was taken abruptly,” he complained. Ghani simultaneously complained that American forces had delayed actions too much and allowed the Taliban to become “an organized command and leadership, backed by an unholy coalition of international terrorism and its supporting circles.”
Former Afghan officials have refuted this claim, instead blaming the Ghani administration’s corruption and incompetence.
“There is no motivation for the army to fight for the corrupt government and corrupt politicians here,” former Afghan Ambassador to London Ahmad Wali Massoud told the Wall Street Journal this week. “They are not fighting for Ghani. They haven’t even been fed properly. Why should they fight? For what?”
A current local official in Sar-e-Pul, a town recently falling to the Taliban, also told Tolo News that Afghan security forces are not being fed.
“The central and local governments have paid no attention. The security forces did not even have food while they were under siege,” Yar Mohammad Maihanparast, the head of the Sar-e-Pul residents’ council in Kabul said.
The Afghan government regularly receives millions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid from the United States, leaving open-ended the reason for a lack of food supply for troops. Corruption is a prominent suspect behind the problem. In May, former Afghan Finance Minister Mohammad Khalid Painda told the Afghan Parliament that he had identified $8 million a day getting lost to corruption and embezzlement in Afghan customs alone. The majority of income from the nation’s customs, he added, went “to the mafia and the Taliban.”
Painda fled the country on Wednesday. In a statement about his departure from the finance minister post and Afghanistan, he expressed pride in firing “dozens of corrupt officers” but lamented, “firing a few corrupt in a wholly corrupt ecosystem does not do much good.”