Trump Admin. Capitulated in Afghan Peace Talks, Leaving Taliban Stronger – McMaster
© AP Photo / Andrew HarnikOutgoing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster attends a news conference with Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, and President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington
© AP Photo / Andrew Harnik
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The Trump administration’s February 2020 deal with the Taliban* bears much of the responsibility for the chaotic US exit from Afghanistan, former national security adviser H.R. McMaster told Congress on Tuesday.
“It was a capitulation agreement based on concession after concession that not only served our overall purpose which became the priority – withdrawing from Afghanistan – but had the effect of actually strengthening the Taliban and weakening the Afghan government security forces on the way out,” McMaster said in testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The agreement essentially doubled down on the Obama administration’s embrace of US-Taliban negotiations beginning in 2010 – a policy rejected by former US President Donald Trump in 2017 but revived by Trump in the final year of his presidency, McMaster said.
However, the former Army general who served as Trump’s national security adviser from 2017 to 2018, placed much of the blame on his former boss for the rapid fall of the US-backed Afghan government and Taliban takeover this summer.
Flaws in the agreement included a requirement for the Afghans to release 5,000 terrorists and criminals, ending active pursuit of the Taliban, withdrawing all US aircraft and ending contractor support for Afghan security forces, McMaster said in his prepared testimony.
Tuesday’s hearing followed congressional testimony last week in which Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley and Central Command Commander General Kenneth McKenzie appeared to contradict US President Joe Biden by saying they had advised the president to retain a residual US military presence in Afghanistan.
The president continues to face criticism over the withdrawal, which reportedly stranded hundreds of Americans, thousands of Afghans who had aided the US, and featured an attack that killed 13 US service members at the Kabul airport during chaotic last-minute evacuations.
* The Taliban is a terrorist organization banned in Russia and many other countries.