Suspicion consumed Afghan officials just before Taliban takeover: watchdog

Suspicion consumed Afghan officials just before the government in Kabul fell to the Taliban last summer, according to a report from a U.S. watchdog.

The report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which was dated May 12 and publicly released Wednesday, also found that the morale among the Afghan military drooped when former President Trump signed the U.S.-Taliban agreement in February 2020 and President Biden announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops over a year later.

The report stated that many Afghans had been left with the impression that the U.S. was “simply handing Afghanistan over to a Taliban government-in-waiting.”

The U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan on Aug. 31, bringing an end to America’s longest conflict. The Biden administration has faced tough scrutiny for the haphazard withdrawal, which came as the Taliban was rapidly taking over the country.

The new report reviewed what led to the demise of Afghanistan’s military amid the Taliban’s takeover.

In the lead-up to the U.S. withdrawal, then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani feared that his military would turn against him, investigators found, leading him to appoint loyalists and isolate those who had been trained by the U.S.

But SIGAR said the biggest factor in the Afghan government’s collapse was the U.S.’s withdrawal. Washington “lacked the political will to dedicate the time and resources necessary” to reconstruct the force in a war-torn country, the report stated.

Because of this, the Afghan military couldn’t operate independently and “the eventual collapse of the ANDSF was predictable,” SIGAR wrote, referring to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

The watchdog also attributed the collapse in part to Ghani’s frequent replacement of leaders with loyalists, not having a plan for national security and the Taliban’s military campaign exploiting the ANDSF’s weaknesses.

“The U.S. and Afghan governments share in the blame,” the report reads. “Neither side appeared to have the political commitment to doing what it would take to address the challenges, including devoting the time and resources necessary to develop a professional ANDSF, a multi-generational process.”

Tags Ashraf Ghani Biden Trump

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