The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee accused the Biden administration Sunday of not properly preparing to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan and warned that the president would be responsible for the fallout.
“When we fully withdraw, the devastation and the killings and women … fleeing across the border into Pakistan, President Biden is going to own these ugly images,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told “Fox News Sunday.”
On Friday, US forces vacated Bagram Airfield, the hub of the American war effort against the Taliban over the past two decades, without informing the base’s new Afghan commander. That gave squads of looters time to break into the complex and make off with items left behind in barracks and storage tents.
The Bagram handover marks a major milestone in the withdrawal, which the Pentagon says will be completed by the end of August. President Biden initially announced the pullout would be accomplished by Sept. 11 of this year.
On Sunday, McCaul said that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s team had recently warned him that the removal of US troops from the country would mark “the year of the jihad.”
“What do they mean by that? It means all the young males in Pakistan at the madrassas are poised with the Taliban to pour over into Afghanistan and you’re going to see a major civil war take place,” McCaul predicted. “And I don’t think, at the end of the day, it’s going to look pretty.”
The lawmaker also accused the White House of having no plan to protect thousands of Afghan interpreters who aided US forces and are at risk of retaliation from advancing Taliban forces.
“These interpreters, we told them we’d take care of them and we can’t turn our backs and leave them to die,” McCaul said. “They will be slaughtered by the Taliban. They’re targeted by the Taliban. We have to get them out of there. There are about 9,000 of them, and I’ve been really pleading with the administration to come up with a plan. They just haven’t prepared for this at all.”
McCaul also raised concerns about the size of the 650-strong force that will remain in Afghanistan after the withdrawal, largely to guard diplomats at the US Embassy in Kabul.
“You know, I’m from Texas, [home of] the Alamo, and we had 250 Texans [against] 5,000 Mexicans. Didn’t end up so well there. I think the odds are worse in Afghanistan,” he said before warning that US forces may be forced to return to the country before too long.
“Our vital interests are ISIS and al Qaeda, and we are going to give them a safe haven as the Taliban takes over that nation and that vacuum is going to be filled by terrorists,” said McCaul. “And I’m concerned that we will be going back.”