US President Joe Biden said Friday that Washington gets help from the Taliban in fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Biden was questioned on Friday if the US had made mistakes before and during the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.
“Remember what I said about Afghanistan? I said al-Qaida would not be there. I said we’d get help from the Taliban. What’s happening now? What’s going on? Read your press. I was right,” Biden said.
In reaction to Biden’s comment, the Taliban foreign ministry’s spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said that his remarks are an “acknowledgment” of the non-existence of militant groups in Afghanistan.
“We consider remarks by US President Joe Biden about the non-existence of armed groups in Afghanistan as an acknowledgment of reality and state that it refutes the recent report by the UN Sanctions Monitoring Team alleging the presence and operation of over twenty armed groups in Afghanistan,” Balkhi said.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also refused to provide details about Biden’s comments on how Washington gets help from the Taliban.
“I literally just went into that,” Jean-Pierre said.
This comes as UN Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov this month said that Afghanistan has once again become a breeding ground for terrorism.
Voronkov added that Afghanistan was turning into a key “epicenter of the spread of terrorism.”
“The document is rather profound and informative; effectively, it shows that Afghanistan is once again slowly turning into one of the most important, or maybe even the most important epicenter of the spread of terrorism. Despite all promises, all loud statements, the facts prove otherwise,” he added.
“De facto, the government [Taliban] is unable or unwilling to curb the terrorist threat,” Voronkov said.
Meanwhile, a review conducted by the State Department, released on Friday, also highlights the agency’s shortcomings in crisis management and awareness before and during the fall of Afghanistan.
According to the report, both President Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, failed to grasp the potential impact of a US military withdrawal on the stability of the Afghan government. The review also noted that routine summer rotations within the State Department left the responsibility of the US evacuation to personnel who had only recently arrived in the country.
The report’s identification of critical errors provides fresh evidence of the mayhem that ensued, leading to the oppressive Taliban regime taking control, the loss of many Afghan lives, the deaths of 13 US service members, and a significant drop in Biden’s approval ratings. The timing of the report’s release, just before a long holiday weekend with little prior notice, is likely to draw criticism from those who believe the administration has sought to downplay scrutiny of its actions during the spring and summer of 2021.
Due to security concerns, large sections of the report were redacted, with only 23 out of 87 pages released. The focus of the analysis primarily revolved around actions and reforms within the State Department, rather than examining the White House or the Pentagon, both of which have already produced their own accounts of the disastrous final phase of the 20-year war.
The review highlights failures at various levels. At the highest level, officials displayed “insufficient senior-level consideration of worst-case scenarios and how quickly those might follow” after Biden affirmed Trump’s decision to withdraw the US military. Before the collapse of the Afghan government, it was unclear within the State Department who was responsible for preparing a full evacuation plan, which hindered their participation in the planning process, despite ongoing military efforts.
The report also found that the Biden administration’s communication during the full withdrawal and as the Taliban approached Kabul only served to increase the chaos and danger of the evacuation.
The constantly changing policy guidance and public messaging from Washington, especially regarding eligibility for relocation from Afghanistan, added to the confusion and failed to consider crucial facts on the ground. Consequently, individuals such as members of Congress and aid workers, who had connections to Afghans, attempted to organize independent rescue missions, diverting attention from a more systematic effort by US personnel on the ground.