On Tuesday (August 24), about 69 US Congressmen wrote to the incumbent US President Joe Biden about the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, its drastic impact, and the government’s course of action. The letter was written two days prior to the Kabul suicide bombing.
The Congressmen blamed the Biden administration for allowing the Taliban to take over Afghanistan at an ‘astonishing speed.’ They questioned the ‘unforced error’ made by the complete withdrawal of American security forces from Afghanistan. The US lawmakers pointed out how the delay in evacuating the Afghan allies and US personnel have exacerbated the situation.
“The situation in Afghanistan has rapidly metastasized into Taliban rule with reinstated oppression of women and girls, the repression of civil society, the displacement of countless Afghans from their homes who the Taliban then use force to prevent from fleeing Afghanistan, and a power vacuum that China seeks to fill by increasing its ties to the Taliban,” the letter emphasised.
The lawmakers pointed out that the consequences of the Taliban rule will impact not only Afghanistan but also the Middle East. They clarified that the withdrawal of US troops will have both strategic and geopolitical consequences. “Dealing with these consequences means that we must take action now to chart the course for American strategy, while we manage the immediate repercussions of this self-inflicted crisis in Afghanistan,” they stated.
Questions by lawmakers to US President Joe Biden over the Afghanistan crisis
The 69 Congressmen who signed the letter had posed a set of serious questions for the US President. They also sought a briefing from the President’s National Security Team, owing to the confidential nature of some of the possible answers.
Here are the questions posed by the Congressmen:
- What is your plan to evacuate Afghan SIVs and other vulnerable Afghans like women, girls, and former Afghan civil service employees from Afghanistan? Do you have a plan to protect prominent women journalists, scholars, and employees of prominent non- government organizations? Will you ensure that religious and ethnic minorities, like the Hazaras, are also prioritized for Pl/P2 visas within this evacuation sequence?
- Will you commit to abandoning the arbitrary August 31 withdrawal deadline and continuing Noncombatant Evacuation Operation until all Americans, allies, and at-risk Afghans are processed for evacuation?
- The intelligence community has warned that Al Qaida and ISIS-K will be given carte blanche by the Taliban to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to train and equip for future terrorist attacks against the United States. What is your plan to ensure that Al Qaida does not resurge and regain a foothold in Afghanistan? What “over the horizon” operations are you prepared to use to counter this threat?
- Given that the Taliban has taken Kabul, does the Taliban now have de facto command and control over the Afghan security forces’ former personnel, equipment, and infrastructure? If so, does this mean that the Taliban possess an air force through this de facto control? What is your plan to disable any air forces that operate under orders from the Taliban?
- What is your plan to ensure that more U.S. and Afghan military equipment does not end up in the hands of the Taliban? What is your plan to reclaim U.S. military equipment that has already fallen into the hands of the Taliban?
- How many U.S. funded aircraft have been taken out of the country by Afghan pilots, and what are you currently doing to retrieve said aircraft?
- What is your plan to secure Third Country Agreements for transit and resettlement functions for Afghan refugees?
- What is your plan to support Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA)’s air traffic control functions long-term? Are there sufficient Afghan personnel to maintain the operability of HKIA after U.S. troops fully withdraw?
- Do you plan to support any free Afghanistan resistance or security force that organizes outside of Afghanistan?
- What is your plan to counter the Chinese Communist Party’s growing relationship with the Taliban?
- What is your plan to ensure that American influence in the Middle East does not erode after so rapidly dissipating in Afghanistan?
- Are you prepared to support regional allies militarily in the event that the Taliban militarize the Afghanistan border? What is your plan to help to ensure that the Taliban does not destabilize its nuclear neighbor, Pakistan?
- Do you have a plan to ensure that Afghanistan, under Taliban occupation, will never acquire a nuclear weapon?
- Since Afghanistan is a Major Non-NATO ally, how will you reassure the United States’ other MNNA countries that this powerful symbol of our close relationship to those countries can still be relied on?
Joe Biden faces heat after Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan
On Thursday, August 26, a suicide bombing near the Hamid Karzai international airport in Afghan’s capital Kabul killed more than 100 people, including 13 US troops, disrupting the ongoing Afghan evacuation of tens of thousands of stranded civilians. Under such circumstances, calls were being made for US President Joe Biden to resign from his post. Senator Josh Hawley, while expressing grief over the lives that were lost, said that it was time for Joe Biden to tender his resignation.
Senator Marsha Blackburn said that it is not only Joe Biden who should resign but Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and General Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should resign as well. Calls are being made by other Republican representatives as well for his resignation. Anthony Sabatini, the member of the Florida House of Representatives, called for him to resign.
It must be mentioned that the incumbent US President Joe Biden had initially decided to withdraw all the American troops from Afghanistan by September 21 this year. His administration had extended the timeline from May 1 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Halfway through, he decided to facilitate an early exit on August 31 without considering the aftermath.