As the Taliban militant group makes rapid advances across Afghanistan, the top Republican in the US Congress has blasted President Joe Biden for his "reckless policy" on the war-ravaged country.
In his remarks on Thursday, senior US senator from Kentucky and the senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell said Afghanistan is careening toward a “massive, predictable, and preventable disaster”.
“The Biden administration has reduced US officials to pleading with Islamic extremists to spare our embassy as they prepare to overrun Kabul,” he said, referring to reports about the US officials moving to evacuate embassy workers in the Afghan capital.
The vicious tirade by the Republican senator, the strongest criticism yet by a senior US official, came after the Biden administration announced it was sending 3,000 troops to secure Kabul's international airport for a series of evacuation flights for US embassy staff and Afghans who worked for US forces.
The Taliban militants have in recent weeks upped the ante, going on a massive rampage across the war-torn country and seizing control of multiple strategic cities in a stunning advance toward Kabul.
The insurgents now control more than half of the country’s 400-odd districts, beside at least 13 provincial capitals, including Kandahar, Herat, Ghazni, Qala-e-Naw, which fell on Thursday.
According to reports, two more major cities in western and southern Afghanistan are presently on the verge of collapse, which has prompted Washington to find a way out for its diplomats in Kabul.
It has also reinforced the perception that the US has brazenly abandoned the war-torn country after militarily occupying it for the past 20 years, without achieving any of its stated objectives.
McConnell said Biden should increase military support for the Afghan forces rather than complete the August 31 withdrawal plan, while slamming his strategy.
“President Biden's strategy has turned an imperfect but stable situation into a major embarrassment and a global emergency in a matter of weeks,” the top Republican said.
McConnell said the decision to deploy US troops to manage the evacuation "seem(s) like preparations for the fall of Kabul," which he compared to "the humiliating fall of Saigon in 1975," when North Vietnamese troops seized control of the city two years after the US military withdrew.
Top Republicans, including McConnell, had in April voiced strong disapproval of Biden administration’s move to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. The Kentucky senator called it a “grave mistake” and “a retreat in the face of an enemy that has not yet been vanquished.”
Taliban’s advances have come after Biden backtracked on a deal signed by his predecessor with the militant group, setting May 1 as the withdrawal deadline for US troops stationed in Afghanistan.
While the US has already pulled out most of its troops from the country, it also ordered its citizens in Afghanistan to leave the country last week.
‘US presence has caused suffering’
The US government has faced blistering criticism for its botched military campaign in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s former president Hamid Karzai this week said the US military presence in the country on the pretext of fighting terrorism had caused “immense suffering” to the people.
“US military activity in Afghanistan in the name of fighting the Taliban was causing immense suffering to the Afghan civilians,” he told Press TV in an exclusive interview. “Children were getting hurt, women were getting hurt, families were getting hurt, homes were bombed, villages were bombed.”
The former Afghan president also touched on the issue of intra-Afghan talks and their failure to bring peace to the country, saying he gave his full backing to the US initiative but such a process failed to yield the desired results and that “the prolongation of the talks has caused even more suffering, more conflicts.”
Pointing to a call by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to form a united and national front against the Taliban, Karzai expressed his opposition to conflict and urged both sides to stop fighting.
An American official appointed by the US Congress to examine the war in Afghanistan has also enumerated Washington’s failures in its longest war, saying the US is likely to repeat those mistakes.
John Sopko said on Thursday that Washington had shifted its goals and set unrealistic timelines, among other mistakes, in the Afghanistan war.
“Don’t believe what you’re told by the generals, or the ambassadors, or people in the administration saying we’re never going to do this again. That’s exactly what we said after Vietnam,” he reporters. “We will do it again.”
Sopko also said that US officials “knew how bad the Afghan military was.”
“But the average American, the average taxpayer, the average congressman, the average person working in the embassy wouldn’t know how bad it was,” he said.
The inspector general made the remarks after his office submitted its latest quarterly report to the US Congress, which provided a grim view of the war in Afghanistan.