As the United States still reels the death of at least 13 U.S. soldiers in suicide attacks near Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport — one of the deadliest terrorist attacks the U.S military has suffered in recent years — Politico has reported that the Biden administration has given the Taliban a list with the names of American citizens, green card holders, and afghan allies in order to “expedite the evacuation of tens of thousands of people” from Taliban-dominated Afghanistan.
According to the reports, the U.S. gave the Taliban a list of names with the people that the American military was aiming to evacuate. Also listed were Afghan allies that are escaping precisely from possible reprisals from the Taliban forces who had breached Kabul.
During Thursday’s remarks at the White House, the President was directly asked if the U.S. had provided names of Americans and Afghan allies to the Taliban, Biden didn’t deny the accusation saying that “there have been occasions” when the U.S. has shared some information with the Taliban about incoming evacuees arriving at the airport and that while he couldn’t say “with certainty that there’s actually been a list of names” that “doesn’t mean (…) it didn’t exist”.
The decision, which was apparently made during the early days of the evacuation, was heavily criticized by government officials, with the article quoting one defense official saying that the administration had basically “put all those afghans on a kill list”. These fears are well-founded, just in late July, an Afghan translator was beheaded by the Taliban after he made a failed attempt to escape a Taliban checkpoint.
The Taliban are in charge of security in Kabul
Not only have the Taliban assassinated Afghan allies in the recent past, but they have also continued to do so in the present, with reports of the Taliban going door-to-door looking for those who worked with the U.S. A German broadcaster told the liberal British newspaper The Guardian that the Taliban had killed a family member of one of their reporters, and a recent report by Amnesty International described how the Taliban massacred members of the Shia Hazara Muslim minority.
The article also revealed that American military commanders have referred to the Taliban, whom the United States has been fighting against for the last 20 years, as “our Afghan partners” in various written and verbal communications. It is valuable to note that those “partners” and Al-Qaeda “remain closely aligned and show no indication of breaking ties” according to a UN report published in June 2021, just two months ago.
The apparent decision by the United States to share key information of those Afghan nationals who have been of crucial help for the Coalition forces who have fought in Afghanistan since 2001 has been heavily criticized by Republican lawmakers.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), also an Afghanistan veteran, called that decision as “borderline treason” and that those responsible should “go to prison”. Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) condemned Biden as he “disgracefully deflected responsibility” when answering a question about the list in a press conference, saying that he “gave terrorists a kill and hostage list”.
Even top Democrats have seemingly started to criticize Biden’s handling of the Afghan retreat, with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) issuing a statement condemning Thursday’s attacks and that while details over the attack are not known fully “one thing is clear: We can’t trust the Taliban with Americans’ security”.
Menendez’ press release sits in direct contrast with the explanations given by the head of the U.S. Central Command, which is in charge of U.S. military assets over the region, who told reporters in a press conference that the Taliban “are providing the outer security cordon around the airfield” and that the U.S. will continue to reach out to the Taliban to ensure “they do what they can to protect us”.
The Biden administration has conducted an evacuation in a city controlled by hostile forces, through a single runway in the Kabul airport, surrounded by thousands of desperate Afghan civilians, in a very tight deadline, and trusting that the Taliban would be enough to provide security for both American military and civilian forces.
The Kabul evacuation appears to be coming to its last, most dangerous days, but the ghost of the Afghan debacle could very well chase Joe Biden for the rest of his presidency.