As American troops rushed to evacuate U.S. embassy officials and others from Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul amid a Taliban takeover, the top Afghan leader was making his own exit plan.
The Washington Examiner reports that Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country Sunday, effectively handing control of Kabul — and the rest of what the now-former Islamic Republic — over to the Taliban.
“It was best to get out”
According to the Examiner, Ghani has sought refuge in neighboring Tajikistan. It was there that the Afghan leader issued a public statement via Facebook.
“Today, I came across a hard choice; I should stand to face the armed Taliban who wanted to enter the palace or leave the dear country that I dedicated my life to protecting and protecting the past twenty years,” Ghani explained.
“The Taliban have made it to remove me, they are here to attack all Kabul and the people of Kabul,” he added. “In order to avoid the bleeding flood, I thought it was best to get out.”
Ghani went on: “Taliban have won the judgement of sword and guns and now they are responsible for protecting the countrymen’s honor, wealth and self-esteem.”
“Hold him accountable”
As it stands, many are criticizing the Afghan president for abandoning his people in their time of need.
Afghan National Reconciliation Council head Abdullah Abdullah stayed behind, according to the Examiner, which also reported that Abdullah “will travel to Qatar on Sunday to meet with representatives of the Taliban, according to an Afghanistan negotiator.”
“He left Afghanistan in a hard time,” the official said of Ghani on Sunday, as the Examiner reported. “God hold him accountable.”
“Not at all comparable”
Despite the chaos and concern lingering there, President Joe Biden defended his decision to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan in an address at the White House on Monday.
Speaking to the American people, Biden admitted that the situation “did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” but largely blamed Afghan forces. “The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight,” the president said, according to a transcript from The New York Times. “If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision.”
But that’s not what Biden was saying back in July. “The Taliban is not the south — the North Vietnamese army,” Biden told reporters July 8, according to Fox News. “They’re not — they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There is going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”