Former U.S. President George W Bush, who initiated the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, has warned the U.S. and NATO military retreats are now accelerating to a conclusions will lead to the return of a brutal Taliban rule.
“The consequences will be incredibly bad,” former President Bush said in an interview with German broadcaster Deutsche Welle published Wednesday.
In the rare media interview recorded at Bush’s summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, the former president was asked if the finding was a mistake. Bush replied, “You know, I think it is, yes.”
“It’s incredible how that society has changed from the brutality of the Taliban, and suddenly – sadly – I’m afraid that Afghan women and women are going to suffer inexpressible harm,” Bush said.
Bush was president when al-Qaeda operations hijacked commercial jets and blew them up in the towers of the World Trade Center in New York and in the Pentagon’s military quarter outside Washington, DC on Dec. 11. September 2001. The United States invaded Afghanistan the following month in persecution of al-Osama bin Laden, head of Qaeda, which was hosted by the Taliban.
Nearly 20 years later, President Joe Biden is following a negotiated agreement with the Taliban to withdraw American and foreign forces.
Encouraged by the Western retreat, Taliban fighters went through district after district, taking control of large swathes of the country. Taliban leaders said last week their fighters had took control of 85 percent of the land in Afghanistan – a claim that the Kabul-based government has rejected as propaganda.
Although the exact details of the amount of land the group controls are difficult to determine because of Afghanistan’s rugged mountainous terrain, the Taliban are moving quickly, often taking government forces by surprise.
On Wednesday, the Taliban said it had taken control of the major border crossing with Pakistan, hoisting the Afghan government flag from above the Friendship Gate between the Pakistani city of Chaman and the Afghan city of Wesh, reports the Reuters press service. On Wednesday, the Afghan interior minister said the Taliban had been repulsed and that government forces had controlled it.
Taliban fighters have captured an important district in Herat province from night to Thursday to Friday – Torghundi, a northern city on the border with Turkmenistan, home to tens of thousands of Shia Hazaras minorities.
The Taliban persecuted the Hazaras when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
In remarks to the White House on July 8, Biden had said the U.S. military would complete its retreat from Afghanistan by the end of August, ahead of schedule, and discarding growing concerns about the developing civil war.
“This is the correct decision, frankly, late,” Biden told the White House.
Biden has called for peace talks between the Taliban and the Western-backed government in Kabul. Top Afghan government delegations and former Taliban leaders have agreed to meet in Qatar jump-start and negotiations stayed for months.
In Bush’s interview with Deutsche Welle, which focused on the political legacy of outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her friendship, Bush said Merkel had partly supported the deployment in Afghanistan “because she saw progress. which could be done for young girls and women in Afghanistan. ”
During the Taliban rule in the late 1990s, women were largely confined to their own homes, and girls had no access to education. Despite protests from the United States and Europe, the Taliban have enforced their version of Islamic law.
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“I’m sad,” Bush said. “Laura and I spent a lot of time with Afghan women, and they were scared. And I think of all the interpreters and people who have helped not only the American troops but the NATO troops, and it seems that they are just being left to be slaughtered by these very brutal people. And it breaks my heart. ”
As first lady of the United States in 2005, Laura Bush had traveled to Kabul where she promoted education for women and met women entrepreneurs and Afghan women who were learning to read for the first time. She remains a staunch supporter of the American University of Afghanistan, which educates men and women in Kabul.
According to Associated Press reports, the United States has had about 4,000 troops in Afghanistan in recent months, and the retreat is now completed by about 95 percent, the U.S. Army Central Command said Tuesday.
The United States plans to hold about 650 troops in Kabul to protect its embassy and international airport.
The United States is in talks with Turkey to regain long-term security at the airport. The Taliban have threatened serious consequences, saying the move is “unwise, a violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity and against our national interests,” a statement from Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Tuesday.
U.S. Army General Austin “Scott” Miller resigned as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and returned to the United States Wednesday. Miller had warned at a media conference in late June that Afghanistan was in danger of falling into a civil war.
The United States will begin fleeing Afghan interpreters, conductors and employees who have assisted U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan and who may be in danger of harm or death under the Taliban rule.
“Our goal is to move eligible individuals out of the country before the withdrawal of troops in late August,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
Congress is drafting legislation to provide accelerated visas for 18,000 Afghans, and Biden administrators are developing a logistical plan to transfer an unspecified number while awaiting visa transformation.
Biden said no one supporting Americans will be left behind.