Centrist Democrats demand immediate House vote on infrastructure bill
Taliban seize four more provincial capitals in Afghanistan
The UK defence secretary has criticised the US decision to leave Afghanistan as a “mistake” that has handed the Taliban “momentum”.
Speaking to Sky News, Ben Wallace warned that “the international community will probably pay the consequences” and said he was worried al-Qaida would regain a base in Afghanistan.
He confirmed UK plans to deploy 600 troops to Afghanistan to help 3,000 people including interpreters and British passport holders to leave, as officials said on Friday the Taliban had captured Afghanistan’s second biggest city, Kandahar, as well as Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province in the south.
Wallace said the withdrawal agreement negotiated in Doha, Qatar, by the Trump administration was a “rotten deal” which the UK tried to resist.
As one provincial capital after another has fallen to the Taliban, the message from Washington to the Afghans facing the onslaught has been that their survival is in their own hands.
“They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation,” Joe Biden said. Jen Psaki, the White House spokeswoman, added: “They have what they need. What they need to determine is whether they have the political will to fight back.”
But despite more than $80bn in US security assistance since 2002 and an annual military budget far in excess of other developing nations, Afghan military resistance to the Taliban is collapsing with greater speed than even most pessimists had predicted. There is talk among US officials of Kabul falling in months – if not weeks.
Interviews with former officials who have been intimately involved in US policy in Afghanistan point to an interconnected webs of factors behind the implosion, some of them long in the making, some a result of decisions taken in the past few months.
While there is consensus that a failure of leadership and unity in Kabul has played an important part in the domino-fall of defeats, there is also agreement that the attempt to put all the blame on the Afghans obscures the share of responsibility of the US and its allies for the military disaster.
Pressure builds for Biden as Taliban secure more territorial gains