AUSTIN (KXAN) — Monday marks one year since Taliban forces took over Afghanistan’s capital. On the anniversary, Republican members of Congress are preparing to release a report on the chaotic withdrawal of American forces and evacuation of civilians.
The report from Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is titled “‘A Strategic Failure’: Assessing the Administration’s Afghanistan Withdrawal”. It focuses blame on the Biden Administration for the failures.
Congressman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, is the ranking Republican on the committee. He spoke Monday in an interview on KXAN News about the report.
“Essentially, what we found was that particularly the White House State Department were not heeding the warnings of the intelligence community who knew the conditions on the ground,” McCaul said. He said the report showed there were warnings of the “imminent collapse” of the Afghan government backed by the United States.
Before the collapse, the administration announced plans to withdraw all combat troops by Aug. 31, 2021. The timeline for withdrawal was originally set in an agreement reached in 2020 by then President Donald Trump. The Trump Administration had set the withdrawal date for May 1, 2021. President Biden pushed the deadline back to Sept. 11, before moving it back to Aug. 31.
The plan called for giving the Afghan government billions to support its army. Those forces crumbled quickly, leading to a desperate evacuation of American citizens, as well as Afghans who had worked with the U.S. during the 20-year war.
“They didn’t really have a plan to process hundreds of thousands of potential evacuees,” McCaul said of the Biden Administration. He said close to 100,000 Afghans who worked with the U.S. were not able to get out during the rushed evacuation.
“We told them we would protect them, that no one would be left behind. And in fact, they were, to the mercy of the Taliban,” McCaul said.
The report could set the stage for new hearings into the events leading up to the withdrawal, should Republicans retake control of the House in the November elections.
McCaul said the report is important to better understand what happened and the lasting effects. He called it a “turning point” in American foreign policy.
“You have people like Putin in Russia and President Xi in Communist China thinking it’s not a question of if, but when, and we saw what Putin has done now in Ukraine, and we also see the threat that Xi is presenting to Taiwan right now,” McCaul said.
“This didn’t happen by accident. I think it had direct cause and effect,” he added.