The White House is planning to circulate a new memo on Capitol Hill defending President Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and claiming the move strengthened national security by freeing up critical military and intelligence agents, according to a copy of the document obtained by Axios.
Why it matters: The memo comes as many across Washington are still seeking answers about the flawed evacuation. Republicans in particular are planning to use the one-year anniversary to reexamine the failures that led to the Afghan capital swiftly falling into the hands of the Taliban.
Driving the news: The memo was written by National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson in part as an attempt to preempt criticism from Republicans who are releasing an interim report on Sunday outlining what they see as the failures of the administration’s preparations for the evacuation.
- The GOP report, led by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the likely chair of the panel if Republicans take back the majority next year, claims the Biden administration left key decisions on how to evacuate civilians from Kabul until the final hours before the city fell to the Taliban.
- “There was a complete lack and a failure to plan. There was no plan and there was no plan executed,” McCaul said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning.
Details: The memo argues the GOP report is “riddled with false claims” and puts the onus on former President Trump for striking a 2020 deal with the Taliban — known as the “Doha agreement” — to evacuate the U.S. from the region by May 2021.
While some Afghanis fled to Iran were offered immunity to return, the report to soon be released is in stern opposition to the Biden White House positive spin. And while often inviting Biden administration officials to participate, especially the U.S. State Department, none did.
From the Military Times in part:
Thousands of Afghan security personnel, including special forces troops, likely fled to Iran with U.S. equipment and military knowledge as their country fell to Taliban insurgents last year, according to a new report released by House Republican leaders on Monday.
The 119-page document accuses President Joe Biden’s administration of failing to adequately prepare for the evacuation of Afghan allies in the months leading up to the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country in August 2021. This includes using just 36 consular officers to process more than 100,000 requests for evacuation.
The authors said their findings come from interviews with whistleblowers, previously unreleased State Department memos and interviews with individuals on the ground in Afghanistan in the days leading up to the withdrawal.
It does not include any direct testimony from senior administration officials, who have previously criticized Republicans’ work on the issue as politically motivated.
There is a somewhat accurate report published by GZERO…it reads as follows:
Contrary to the hopes of optimists, no “Taliban 2.0” has emerged. The regime hasn’t really reformed, and is as hardline as it was when it ruled the country from 1996 to 2001.
There is no constitution. Religious policing is back with a vengeance. The media is muzzled. And the recent US killing of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a Kabul enclave that houses senior members of the Haqqani Network — whose boss is the current interior minister — has confirmed the skeptics who thought the Taliban could or would never disassociate from international terrorism.
Financially, things are as bad as they can get. The economy has essentially collapsed under the weight of international isolation, sanctions, and aid cuts. It was so hooked to the war that six months after the American withdrawal, GDP fell by a third. Now, Afghanistan is near universal poverty and starvation.
Women and girls have had it the worst. Millions of them have found themselves out of school, out of jobs, and out of public life altogether. The Taliban’s supreme leader vetoed a government edict to let them back to class in March, a political development that underscores serious schisms within the regime’s conservative and moderate — by Taliban standards — elements.
On Sunday, on the eve of the re-establishment of the “Islamic Emirate,” a few brave women marched in a rare protest in Kabul. They were beaten and scared off by automatic gunfire.
Afghan women wearing traditional burqas walk past a cemetery in Kabul (AFP via Getty Images)
But the United States is financially providing money support in Afghanistan….
Please note –>
SIGAR noted in its January 2022 report that,4
- The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that donors contributed $1.67 billion for Afghanistan humanitarian assistance programs in 2021. The United States contributed the largest amount, over $425 million. These amounts far exceeded previous years’ humanitarian assistance.
- …On December 22, the Treasury Department broadened the types of activities authorized under U.S. licenses, and the UN Security Council established a UN sanctions exemption to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian and other forms of aid to Afghanistan.
- On January 11, 2022, the White House announced an additional $308 million in U.S. humanitarian aid for Afghanistan. On that same day, the UN launched a $5 billion funding appeal for its 2022 Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan, the largest single- country aid appeal in UN history.
- On January 26, the UN announced an additional appeal for $3.6 billion as part of its Transitional Engagement Framework. In total, the framework calls for more than $8 billion in humanitarian and other aid for Afghanistan.
No one can really estimate what is really required at this point or what arrangements the U.S. and other outside powers can make to allocate such aid to the Taliban or any other successor government, but the current outlook of estimates – that are even as high as $8.6 billion – seem to ignore several critical aspects of the financing of the past Afghan central government and the impact of its spending on the Afghan people before it was defeated and collapsed.
- Some 75% of all Afghan government spending came from aid. As SIGAR notes, “prior to the collapse of the Islamic Republic, international aid contributed to around 40% of Afghanistan’s GDP and 75% of public expenditures.5 Total government spending financed most of the modern sector of the Afghan economy except for hard currency earnings from the export of narcotics.
- For political reasons, much of the economic data on Afghanistan did not include narcotics exports. However, UNDOC estimates that, “the gross output of the Afghan opiate economy was between $1.8 and $2.7 billion in 2021, comprising the equivalent of 9–14% of Afghanistan’s GDP and exceeding the value of all of Afghanistan’s officially recorded licit exports for 2020 (estimated at 9% of GDP).6
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