Former Afghan president denounces US military campaign as failure ahead of planned withdrawal

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The former Afghan president blasted the US military effort in his country, saying the mission failed to achieve any of the goals it set for itself nearly 20 years ago upon arrival.

Hamid Karzai took office in Afghanistan just three months after the 9/11 attack and just two months after US and NATO forces arrived in his country to hunt and destroy al-Qaida. He was in the post for 13 years, working with the United States for over a decade, and what he saw was a disappointment.

Karzai claimed that extremism was at its “peak” before the planned withdrawal of US forces from his country and that the US had broken its promises.

December 14, 2011: Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a joint press conference with invisible US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan.
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December 14, 2011: Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a joint press conference with invisible US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan.

“The international community came here 20 years ago with this clear goal of fighting extremism and bringing stability… but extremism is at its highest level today,” Karzai said during an interview with the Associated Press. “So they failed.”

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“We recognize all of our failures as Afghans, but what about the larger forces and powers that have come here for exactly that purpose?” he added. “Where are they leaving us now? In utter shame and disaster.”

Karzai argues that Afghanistan would have been “better off” without the intervention of the United States; furthermore, he accused the forces of waging a campaign “against Afghan villages and hopes” instead.

Former President Donald Trump launched a plan to withdraw US troops from the country, with the intention of completing the withdrawal of all regular troops by May 2021. President Biden changed this timeline when he took his duties, aiming instead to withdraw troops by September 11, 2021.

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“I am now the fourth US president to preside over a US troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats,” Biden said when he announced the new deadline. “I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”

The decision to withdraw the troops was already unpopular, and Biden’s commitment to the withdrawal only further frustrated a number of U.S. officials.

Former President George W. Bush warned in April that the decision to withdraw troops from the country would provide the Taliban with opportunities he hoped the United States would not regret.

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“My first reaction was, wow, these girls are going to have real problems with the Taliban,” Bush said. “Much progress has been made, and therefore I am deeply concerned for the plight of women and girls in this country.”

President Biden will meet with the current President of Afghanistan on June 25 to demonstrate “the enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan as the military withdrawal continues.”

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“The United States is committed to supporting the Afghan people by providing diplomatic, economic and humanitarian assistance to support the Afghan people, including Afghan women, girls and minorities,” said a White House statement. “The United States will remain deeply engaged with the Afghan government to ensure that the country never again becomes a safe haven for terrorist groups that pose a threat to the United States homeland.”

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