Diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan alerted Secretary of State Antony Blinken in July to the risk of Kabul falling into Taliban hands shortly after U.S. troops withdrew from the country at the end of August, The Wall Street Journal revealed on Thursday.
According to the newspaper, 23 diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned in an internal communication to Blinken of the possibility of a rapid Taliban advance and the collapse of Afghan security forces, as eventually happened.
That internal communication, dated July 13, also urged the State Department to use harsher language to describe the atrocities committed by the insurgents.
The diplomats also asked the State Department to begin collecting as soon as possible the data needed to evacuate Afghans who worked for the Americans for 20 years as interpreters or translators and who are entitled to special visas to seek refuge in the United States. They also deemed it necessary to begin evacuation flights by August 1 at the latest.
Washington began withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan in May but was forced to accelerate evacuation efforts on August 14, just one day before the insurgents entered Kabul without resistance, with almost all provinces under their control, and following the flight of the hitherto Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani.
The communication was through a so-called “memorandum of dissent,” which diplomats use to express concerns about policies on which they do not feel they are being heard. Such documents are usually reviewed by the Secretary of State.
The existence of that document will almost certainly increase the debate over why Washington failed to predict the collapse of the Afghan government and military and, more importantly, whose fault it is.
In July, President Joe Biden said that the fall of the Afghan government and the total victory of the Taliban was “highly unlikely” and pointed to the supposed strength of the Afghan armed forces, in whose training and equipping Washington has invested more than $83 billion.
The ruler also promised that the exit would be done in an orderly manner, far from the chaotic images of the fall of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) that ended the Vietnam War in 1975.
However, yesterday, Wednesday, Biden in an interview with ABC News backtracked on his earlier statements and defended that there was no way to withdraw from Afghanistan without unleashing “chaos”.
Chief of Defense Staff General Mark Milley has also said that it was impossible to predict that the collapse of the Afghan Army and government would occur in just eleven days, as it finally did.