Republicans call on Biden to recognize opposition group in Afghanistan

Two Republican lawmakers are calling on President BidenJoe BidenCDC working to tighten testing requirement for international travelers On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Manchin seeks 'adjustments' to spending plan MORE to recognize figures from Afghanistan’s opposition group as the “legitimate government representatives” in the country and that the Taliban takeover is “illegal.”

“After speaking with Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh and representatives of Ahmad Massoud, we are calling on the Biden Administration to recognize these leaders as the legitimate government representatives of Afghanistan,” Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Biden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback MORE (R-S.C.) and Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) said in a joint statement on Friday.

“We ask the Biden Administration to recognize that the Afghan Constitution is still intact, and the Afghan Taliban takeover is illegal,” they added.

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Earlier this month, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country the same day that Kabul was overtaken by the Taliban amid a withdrawal of U.S. troops. Ghani said that he left the country to avoid further bloodshed.

Two days after Ghani left, Saleh declared that he was the “caretaker” president according to Afghanistan’s constitution. 

“Clarity: As per d constitution of Afg, in absence, escape, resignation or death of the President the FVP becomes the caretaker President. I am currently inside my country & am the legitimate care taker President. Am reaching out to all leaders to secure their support & consensus,” Saleh tweeted on Aug. 17, whose Twitter bio says “acting president.”

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Massoud is the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, an Afghan mujahedeen leader who staved off Soviet and Taliban forces from gaining ground in the Panjshir Valley in past conflicts in the country, The Associated Press reported. That valley, which is north of Kabul, is considered the last current stronghold against the Taliban where both Massoud and Saleh currently reside. 

“We call on President Biden to designate the Afghan Taliban as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and we urge him to publicly support Congressional efforts to stand with our friends in the Panjshir Valley who will serve as a bulwark against regional terror,” the two Republicans said in their joint statement.

Officials have been cautious over how to depict the Taliban, though some leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have said they did not want any entities recognizing the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

"We don't want anybody bilaterally recognising the Taliban," Johnson said. "We want a united position amongst all the like-minded as far as we can get one so that we do whatever we can to prevent Afghanistan lapsing back into being a breeding ground for terror."