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Biden Disregarded Advice, Opted for Unconditional Withdrawal from Afghanistan, Says Former Ambassador

Former U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad revealed to a House panel that President Joe Biden opted not to condition the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan on a political agreement. 

This decision diverged from the advice of key diplomats.

Testimony Unveiled

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In his testimony, Khalilzad, a central figure in the Doha Agreement negotiations, highlighted that Biden chose an unconditional withdrawal. 

This approach disregarded the possibility of maintaining a counter-terrorism force.

Hearing Insights

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The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s hearing, titled “Behind the Scenes: How the Biden Administration Failed to Enforce the Doha Agreement,” offered a deep dive into the administration’s decisions. 

Khalilzad served as the sole witness in this critical examination.

Evacuation Tragedy

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The chaotic evacuation from Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 26, 2021, resulted in the death of over 180 people, including 13 American service members. 

This event has been a focal point of scrutiny.

Political Divide

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Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for the withdrawal’s failures, focusing on these issues during hearings and campaign events. 

Democrats, however, point to the Trump administration’s signing of the Doha Agreement as the disaster’s origin.

The Doha Agreement

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The Doha Agreement, signed under President Trump, outlined the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces by May 2021. 

Critics argue that this plan significantly destabilized the Afghan government.

Shared Blame?

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A State Department “After Action Report” suggests that the responsibility for the 20-year conflict’s outcomes spans four administrations. 

This perspective adds complexity to the debate over the handling of the withdrawal.

Khalilzad’s Perspective

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With a career spanning several administrations, Khalilzad acknowledged that long-term policies and recent decisions contributed to the withdrawal chaos. 

He emphasized the Afghan government and the military’s collapse as critical factors.

Negotiating Withdrawal

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Khalilzad’s negotiation of the Doha Agreement aimed at securing a safe withdrawal while addressing counter-terrorism. 

The Taliban’s commitment not to attack U.S. forces post-agreement marked a significant policy shift.

Unconditional Withdrawal

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Despite recommendations to condition the withdrawal on Taliban compliance, President Biden chose an unconditional exit. 

This decision aimed to avoid further conflict but has been widely debated.

Strategic Divergence

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Khalilzad and Secretary Blinken’s advice for a conditional withdrawal was not taken, leading to an approach that sidestepped the original Doha Agreement terms. 

This strategic choice has sparked significant discussion.

The Aftermath

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The unconditional withdrawal’s impact continues to be a point of contention. 

Critics argue it was a missed opportunity for a more stable exit strategy, while supporters believe it was necessary to end America’s longest war.

A Complex Legacy

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The legacy of the Afghanistan withdrawal is complex, reflecting the intertwining of diplomacy, military strategy, and political considerations. 

Khalilzad’s testimony sheds light on the intricate decisions behind this historic moment.

Evaluating the Outcome

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The decision to withdraw unconditionally from Afghanistan has led to broad discussions on its implications. 

The aftermath of this strategy poses questions about the U.S.’s role and strategies in foreign conflicts.

Future Reflections on Diplomacy and Conflict

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The debate over the Afghanistan withdrawal strategy underscores the challenges of ending long-term military engagements. 

It highlights the need for nuanced approaches to international diplomacy and conflict resolution.

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