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Former President George W. Bush called the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan a mistake and fears for the lives of Afghan women and girls.
“I am afraid that Afghan women and girls will suffer unspeakable harm,” the former president told German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle from his home in Maine in an interview.
Asked if it was a mistake to pull American troops out of the country, Bush said, “I think so, because I think the consequences will be incredibly bad, and I’m sad.”
In his first year as president, following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush launched the war in Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban-led government and attack Al-Qaeda. It became America’s longest war.
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As a result, Afghan women, Bush said, are “scared” and he expressed concern about the fate of the people who helped American and NATO troops over the past two decades.
“I think of all the interpreters and the people who helped not only the American troops, but also the NATO troops and it just seems that they are going to leave them behind to be massacred by these brutal people, and that breaks my heart,” he stressed.
Thousands of people desperate to flee Afghanistan unleashed chaos Monday at Kabul airport as they tried to board repatriation flights on the country’s first day under Taliban control after Afghan President Ashra Ghani himself secretly fled on Sunday.
The mass of people began arriving at Hamid Karzai International Airport in the Afghan capital last night, with many of them without even travel documents or visas, leaving harrowing images after the Taliban entered the city declaring victory after two decades of war.
Videos posted on social media show hundreds of people pushing and shoving and climbing over each other to get on a plane, and in others, gunfire can even be heard nearby.
The State Department said in a statement that it is working to secure Hamid Karzai International Airport and allow the safe departure of American and allied personnel via civilian and military flights.
“Over the next 48 hours, we will have expanded our security presence to almost 6,000 soldiers, with a mission focused solely on facilitating these efforts and assuming control of air traffic,” it stated.
The United States intends to relocate in the coming days “thousands of American citizens who have resided in Afghanistan, as well as local personnel of the American mission in Kabul, their families, and other particularly vulnerable Afghan citizens.”
He also said he has accelerated the evacuation of “thousands of Afghans eligible for special US immigrant visas, of which nearly 2,000 have already arrived in the United States in the last two weeks.”