‘Weakness begets war’: Pompeo says Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal puts US at greater risk of terror attacks as Taliban seizes Kandahar and Lashkar Gar and president sends in 3,000 troops to evacuate embassy

  • Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state, appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on Thursday night
  • Said he was deeply concerned at the rapid Taliban takeover of vast swathes of the country and insisted Trump would have prevented it
  • Pompeo said that Joe Biden’s approach was ‘at best naive and at worst ignorant’ because it has allowed the Taliban to make rapid gains
  • He said it was an indication of the wider problem of American weakness and failure to gain the respect of nations and actors around the world 
  • Pompeo spoke as the Taliban continued their rampage across the country by capturing the nation’s second largest city Kandahar, the third largest Herat and the capital of Helmand Lashkar Gar 
  • The Pentagon is sending troops back into Afghanistan to help evacuate some personnel from the US embassy
  • Diplomats are weighing how soon they could have to totally evacuate the US embassy in Kabul, where some 4,000 people are employed 
  • Taliban fighters are going door-to-door and forcing young women in captured areas into sex slavery and executing Afghan forces who surrender 

Donald Trump’s secretary of state Mike Pompeo has condemned the White House for their weak tactics in Afghanistan, saying that the country would not be falling to the Taliban if Trump was in charge. 

Pompeo warned on Thursday night that the country was turning into ‘a breeding ground’ for future terror attacks weeks before the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and the Biden administration’s response has been ‘at best naive and at worst ignorant’.

He spoke as the Taliban continued their rampage across the country on Thursday by capturing the nation’s second largest city Kandahar and the third biggest Herat. On Friday they stormed into Lashkar Gar, the capital of Helmand Province. 

The Biden administration announced Thursday it would send 3,000 troops back to Afghanistan to help evacuate American personnel from the embassy in Kabul and would leave another 5,000 on standby in Qatar and Kuwait, with just two weeks until the August 31 deadline to end all ground operations.

The move comes amid furious criticism of the Biden’s administration troop withdrawal that has allowed the Taliban to run rampant and capture 12 provincial capitals in a week. There are also reports the terrorists are executing Afghan troops who surrender and are going door-to-door to force young women and girls into sex slavery.

Thousands of Afghan citizens have also fled their homes and have headed to the border in fears Kabul could fall by September 11. 

‘It looks at best naïve and at worst ignorant,’ he said, of the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces. Weakness begets war, and you see what weak leadership ultimately leads to.’ 

By Thursday night, 12 provincial capitals had fallen to the Taliban and two thirds of the country was under their control. Only three major cities – Kabul, Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sharif – remain under Afghan government power.

The Taliban seized the cities of Ghazni, Herat and Kandahar on Thursday, in the most dramatic string of captures since launching their offensive. 

The militants raised their white flags imprinted with an Islamic proclamation of faith over Ghazni on Thursday morning, just 80 miles southwest of Kabul. 

The Pentagon was sending 3,000 troops, part of three infantry battalions, back to oversee the evacuation of the U.S. embassy in Kabul, in addition to the over 650 U.S. service members still currently stationed in Afghanistan.    

Another 3,500 to 4,000 reserve forces will be stationed in Kuwait on standby, and another 1,000 will go to Qatar to help with Special Immigrant visa processing.  

Pompeo said that Trump was adamant the Taliban would not regain power on his watch.

Mike Pompeo on Thursday night appeared on Sean Hannity’s show to discuss events in Afghanistan

A Taliban fighter holds a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) along the roadside in Herat, Afghanistan’s third biggest city, on Friday after the US announced it was sending 3,000 troops back into Afghanistan 

The economic centres of Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second biggest city, and Lashkar Gah – the capital of the southern province of Helmand – were the latest to fall to the insurgency, prompting questions over how long the capital Kabul will hold out. Pictured: Taliban fighters in a vehicle along the roadside in Herat on Friday 

Afghan army forces are seen standing guard along the road to Herat on Thursday

The Taliban has taken the city of Ghanzi, just 80 miles south of Kabul, and Herat in the west of the country. The fall of Ghanzi means Islamist fighters now control the main highways leading both north and south out of the capital Kabul. Herat is the country’s third largest city and was the 11th provincial capital to fall in a week

‘We had a conditions-based plan for how we would get our young men and women back home,’ he told Sean Hannity of Fox News.

‘We were going to get our soldiers back, and we were going to make sure that this kind of thing you are seeing happened today could not happen – which is a breeding ground for what could potentially be terror attacks coming from this very place.

‘I’ll never forget the president saying you got two missions, Mike: we have got to have an orderly plan and execution of leadership to actually do that, and then second you’ve got to make sure that we are never attacked from this place.’

Pompeo said the 20th anniversary of 9/11 was a potent reminder of the threat.

Osama Bin Laden was in Afghanistan at the time, under the protection of the Taliban, who had been in power since 1996.

When they refused to hand him over, the U.S. intervened militarily, quickly removing the Taliban and vowing to support democracy and eliminate the terrorist threat. 

The latest U.S. military intelligence assessment suggests Kabul could come under insurgent pressure within 30 days and that, if current trends hold, the Taliban could gain full control of the country within a few months. 

The Afghan government may eventually be forced to pull back to defend the capital and just a few other cities in the coming days if the Taliban keep up their momentum.

The onslaught represents a stunning collapse of Afghan forces and renews questions about where the over $830 billion spent by the U.S. Defense Department on fighting, training those troops, and reconstruction efforts went — especially as Taliban fighters ride on American-made Humvees and pickup trucks with M-16 rifles slung across their shoulders. 

Taliban fighters stand on a vehicle along the roadside in Herat today.  The US is now scrambling to get American personnel and local allies out of Kabul amid fears the Taliban will reach the capital in just 90 days 

Pictured: Stranded people crossing the border between Pakistan Afghanistan, in Chaman-Spin Boldak, Pakistan, Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. Thousands of Afghans have fled their homes amid fears the Taliban will again impose a brutal, repressive government after 20 years

Farzia, 28, who lost her husband in Baghlan one week ago to fighting with the Taliban sits with her children, Subhan, 5, and Ismael, 2, in a tent at a makeshift IDP camp in Kabul on Thursday

Afghans forced from their homes in the northern provinces, now controlled by the Taliban, are pictured arriving at a makeshift camp in Kabul on Thursday

Pompeo said that having the Taliban back in control was a threat to international peace and stability. 

‘We are now a little bit less than a month away from the 20th anniversary of when they came, when Al Qaeda came and attacked our homeland,’ he told Hannity.

‘We never want that to happen from Afghanistan again.

‘So we had begun to prepare. We started to withdraw from our embassy in Kabul.

‘President Trump himself made clear to the Taliban leadership: touch an American and we are going to come hard and we are going to come fast.’

Pompeo spoke after the Pentagon announced it is sending 3,000 troops back into Afghanistan to help evacuate some personnel from the U.S. embassy, amid the Taliban’s surging encroachment on the capital city of Kabul.

An Afghan policeman stands guard on July 5 inside Bagram US air base, 50 miles north of Kabul, after all US and NATO troops left

Armored Personnel Carriers are seen on patrol along the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan on Thursday. The border was closed a few days ago in the Pakistani city of Chaman, but it has since reopened

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said: ‘We believe this is it the prudent thing to do given the rapidly deteriorating security situation in and around Kabul.’ 

The latest move follows furious criticism of the Biden’s administration troop withdrawal that has allowed the Taliban to run rampant across the country. 

There are also reports the terrorists are executing Afghan troops the U.S. left to try and stop the government from being overrun. 

Kirby said the mission is to reduce the civilian personnel presence at the U.S. embassy in Kabul by the end of the month. He said he wouldn’t speculate what the military ‘footprint’ would look like in Afghanistan beyond August 31. 

However, he said President Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. forces still stands.

Afghan security officials arrive as part of a reinforcement to fight against Taliban militants on August 1. By Thursday the city had fallen to the Taliban

Kirby specified the new deployment was part of a ‘narrowly-focused mission of safeguarding’ but refused to say whether the 3,000 troops would be included in that deadline. 

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the embassy would continue to focus on counterterrorism, furthering peace and security and consular work, especially facilitating Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Afghans who worked to help the U.S. military over the past 20 years. 

He said those who are leaving are ‘those who might be able to perform functions elsewhere in the world’ or who ‘may not be necessary to perform functions.’  

Price refused to classify the clear-out as an ‘evacuation,’ and stressed it’s a withdrawal of civilian personnel. 

Price also stressed that U.S. troops were there strictly to help embassy personnel leave the country safely. 

‘This is not about re-engaging in military conflict in Afghanistan,’ he said.

At the same time, the United Kingdom is sending 600 troops back to Afghanistan to help British nationals to evacuate the nation.   

‘We are in no way abandoning the people of Afghanistan. Far from it. We are going to continue doing everything we can,’ he added, when asked what kind of message the Taliban should take from the withdrawal. 

Taliban militants are seen inside Ghazni, eastern Afghanistan, on Thursday

Pleas to leave the embassy untouched seem to go against the president’s public assurances that he has still has faith Afghan forces can hold on to Kabul.

Still, with the U.S. drawdown, Afghan interpreters for the U.S. are terrified they may never get their chance to flee as the Taliban put a target on their backs. 

James Miervaldis, board chairman of No One Left Behind,  a non-profit that works to relocate foreign interpreters, said the organization was disheartened by the escalating situation but had secured a $500,000 private grant to fly as many families out of Afghanistan as they can commercially. 

‘We have been trying to avoid this outcome in Afghanistan for eight years – through three presidential administrations, seven congresses, seven secretaries of defense, and five secretaries of state… yet here we are. No One Left Behind and patriotic private citizens will fly out as many SIV recipients as possible. We will keep our moral obligation to our allies.  

By Thursday, Taliban fighters had captured Afghanistan’s third largest city, Herat. Hours later, the militant group captured Kandahar, the nation’s second largest city behind Kabul, giving them control of 12 of 34 provincial capitals. 

Earlier, it was reported American negotiators were seeking assurances from the Taliban that the militant group will not go after the US embassy if they overtake Kabul. 

The effort, led by Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief American envoy in negotiations with the Taliban, seeks to avoid an evacuation of the embassy’s nearly 4,000 employees, including 1,400 Americans, two U.S. officials told the New York Times. 

Khalilzad is working to convince the Taliban the embassy must remain open if they hope to ever receive any form of American aid as part of a future Afghan government.  

The State Department last week warned U.S. citizens to get out of the war-ravaged nation immediately. 

Khalilzad arrived in Qatar on Tuesday to warn Taliban officials that their government would not be recognized.  

Pleas to leave the embassy untouched seem to go against the president’s public assurances that he has still has faith Afghan forces can hold on to Kabul. 

Taliban fighters could isolate Afghanistan’s capital in 30 days and possibly take it over within 90, a U.S. defense official told Reuters citing intelligence reports as the resurgent militants made more advances across the country. 

‘But it is not a foregone conclusion,’ the official said, adding that Afghan Security Forces could reverse course by surging their resistance. 

Biden on Monday said: ‘They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation. The United States will insist to continue the commitments … they’ve got to want to fight. I think there’s still a possibility.  

‘I do not regret my decision’ to withdraw, the president continued. 

The Biden administration has faced intensifying pressure as swelling Taliban advances draw more public condemnations of the decision to withdraw. 

‘All of this is a result of President Biden believing he knows more than his military advisors. President Biden apparently learned nothing from Iraq. When it comes to Afghanistan, the worst is yet to come.’ Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wrote on Twitter Thursday.

‘A vacuum is being created in Afghanistan for the reemergence of ISIS and al-Qaeda who will attack U.S. interests. America is perceived as an unreliable ally throughout the world. Russia, Iran, and China will become stronger in the region,’ he continued.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said in a statement Biden is ‘completely detached from reality.’ 

‘Instead of devising and implementing a strategy to responsibly withdraw our troops and ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe harbor for terrorists, President Biden set an entirely arbitrary deadline.

‘Because of the president’s disastrous decision, security within Afghanistan has collapsed to the point where the Department of State is evacuating embassy  personnel from the country and the Department of Defense is deploying some 3,000 troops to assist in the evacuation process. 

‘We are now seeing the world’s most powerful country pleading with Taliban terrorists not to attack American citizens or murder the Afghans who had worked toward a free and democratic future.’ 

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., a notorious hawk who has long been opposed to leaving Afghanistan, called the withdrawal an ‘unconditional surrender.’

‘America’s enemies know that the slogan ‘ending endless war’ actually means unconditional surrender. That is what we are seeing in Afghanistan today. American weakness is dangerously provocative,’ Cheney wrote on Twitter. 

U.S. warplanes have launched strikes in support of government troops in recent days but the Pentagon has yet to say whether they will continue to offer air support once Biden’s withdrawal deadline has passed.   

The insurgents have no air force and are outnumbered by U.S.-trained Afghan defense forces, but they have captured territory with stunning speed. The Taliban wants to defeat the U.S-backed government and reimpose strict Islamic law.  

In just the latest warning of atrocities being perpetrated by jihadist fighters in areas they have seized, the U.S. now claims that Taliban fighters are executing Afghan troops who surrender. 

 ‘We’re hearing additional reports of Taliban executions of surrendering Afghan troops,’ the US embassy in Kabul tweeted on Thursday. 

‘Deeply disturbing & could constitute war crimes.’ 

Taliban fighters are also going door-to-door and forcibly marrying girls as young as 12 and forcing them into sex slavery as they seize vast swathes of the Afghanistan from government forces. 

Jihadist commanders have ordered imams in areas they have captured to bring them lists of unmarried women aged from 12 to 45  for their soldiers to marry because they view them as ‘qhanimat’ or ‘spoils of war’ – to be divided up among the victors.

Fighters have then been going door-to-door to claim their ‘prizes’, even looking through the wardrobes of families to establish the ages of girls before forcing them into a life of sexual servitude. 

A family including women and children rest at a makeshift camp in the Afghan capital of Kabul after fleeing fighting

Young boys rest in a refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan, after fleeing fighting elsewhere in the country

Fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians who have fled their homes, with thousands of those heading for the safety of government-held Kabul (pictured)

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki came under fire for her overly-diplomatic attitude toward the brutal militant group. 

‘The Taliban also has to make an assessment about what they want their role to be in the international community,’ she said in an effort to nudge them to the negotiating table. 

In an attempt to stop the bloodletting, Afghan diplomats in Qatar said they had approached the Taliban with a deal today that would see the group included in a national unity government in return for halting the fighting.

But such talks have been stalled for years over Taliban demands to turn the country into an Islamic emirate – and there is little reason to believe they will have softened that stance after their battlefield triumphs. 

Children forced to flee their homes due to fighting in Afghanistan drink tea as they sit in a refugee camp in Kabul

Families rest in a camp in Kabul after they fled their homes due to fear of the Taliban and sought shelter in government areas

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