September 30, 2021 | 7:55am
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley (C) testifies alongside Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin (2nd-R), and Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie (R), commander of US Central Command, before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan at the Rayburn House Office building on Capitol Hill on September 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. The committee held the hearing “to receive testimony on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations.”
Olivier Douliery – Pool / Getty Images / AFP
WASHINGTON, United States — The top US general conceded in a stark admission on Wednesday that the United States “lost” the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
“It is clear, it is obvious to all of us, that the war in Afghanistan did not end on the terms we wanted, with the Taliban in power in Kabul,” General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee.
“The war was a strategic failure,” Milley told a committee hearing about the US troop pullout from Afghanistan and the chaotic evacuation from the capital Kabul.
“It wasn’t lost in the last 20 days or even 20 months,” Milley said.
“There’s a cumulative effect to a series of strategic decisions that go way back,” said the general, the top military advisor to President Joe Biden, who ordered an end to the 20-year US troop presence in Afghanistan.
“Whenever you get some phenomenon like a war that is lost — and it has been, in the sense of we accomplished our strategic task of protecting America against Al-Qaeda, but certainly the end state is a whole lot different than what we wanted,” Milley said.
“So whenever a phenomenon like that happens, there’s an awful lot of causal factors,” he said. “And we’re going to have to figure that out. A lot of lessons learned here.”
Milley listed a number of factors responsible for the US defeat going back to a missed opportunity to capture or kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora soon after the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan.
He also cited the 2003 decision to invade Iraq, which shifted US troops away from Afghanistan, “not effectively dealing with Pakistan as a (Taliban) sanctuary,” and pulling advisers out of Afghanistan a few years ago.
Biden, in April, ordered a complete pullout of US forces from Afghanistan by August 31, following through on an agreement reached with the Taliban by former president Donald Trump.
Milley and General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, told a Senate committee on Tuesday that they had personally recommended that some 2,500 troops remain on the ground in Afghanistan.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden had received “split” advice about what to do in Afghanistan, which the United States invaded following the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.
“Ultimately, it’s up to the commander-in-chief to make a decision,” Psaki said. “He made a decision that it was time to end a 20-year war.”
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 30, 2021 – 7:21pm
Get the latest news as Taliban gains control of Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera/AFP
September 30, 2021 – 7:21pm
Qatar’s top diplomat on Thursday labelled a recent string of rights abuses in Afghanistan “disappointing” and called on the Taliban leadership to look to Doha for how to run an Islamic system.
The Taliban publicly strung up four alleged kidnappers from cranes in Herat last week and older girls are still unable to resume their studies after weeks.
“The recent actions that we have seen unfortunately in Afghanistan, it has been very disappointing to see some steps being taken backward,” Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said at a media briefing in Doha.
Doha has become a key broker in Afghanistan following last month’s withdrawal of US forces, helping to evacuate thousands of foreigners and Afghans, engaging the new Taliban rulers and supporting operations at Kabul airport.
“We need to keep engaging them and urging them not to take such actions, and we have also been trying to demonstrate for the Taliban how Muslim countries can conduct their laws, how they can deal with the women’s issues,” said Sheikh Mohammed. — AFP
September 29, 2021 – 7:42am
Top US generals say that they advised keeping American troops in Afghanistan to bolster the Afghan government and expressed concern that the Taliban has not severed ties with Al-Qaeda.
“I think that our credibility with allies and partners around the world and with adversaries is being intensely reviewed by them to see which way this is going to go and I think ‘damage’ is one word that could be used, yes,” General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tells the Senate.
Milley says the Taliban “was and remains a terrorist organization and they still have not broken ties with Al-Qaeda,” which used Afghanistan as a base to plot the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. — AFP
September 28, 2021 – 7:23am
The International Criminal Court’s new prosecutor says he would focus on the Taliban and Islamic State-Khorasan’s actions in Afghanistan instead of alleged US crimes.
Karim Khan asked judges to relaunch the court’s probe into Afghanistan, which was paused last year at Kabul’s request, saying the Taliban’s takeover meant war crimes would no longer be investigated properly.
But rights defenders reacted with fury after Khan, who took office in June with a vow to reform the ICC, announced that he would “deprioritise” the investigation into American forces and concentrate on Islamist groups. — AFP
September 26, 2021 – 11:51am
After seeing photos of black-clad Afghan women in full face veils at a pro-Taliban rally in Kabul, Bahar Jalali, an Afghan-American historian, launched a campaign highlighting the vibrant colors of traditional Afghan dresses.
“I was very concerned that the world would think that those clothing worn by those women in Kabul was traditional Afghan clothing, and I don’t want our heritage and culture to be misrepresented,” said Jalali, who lives in Glenwood, Maryland, about an hour’s drive from Washington.
Jalali, 56, created the social media hashtags #DoNotTouchMyClothes and #AfghanistanCulture, which quickly became popular, with women posting photos of themselves wearing colorful, embroidered Afghan clothing and smiling for the camera.
“Afghan women don’t wear hijab,” Jalali told AFP.
“We wear a loose chiffon headscarf that reveals the hair. And anybody who’s familiar with Afghanistan history, culture, knows that the clothing worn by those women have never been seen before in Afghanistan,” she said, referring to demonstrators at the pro-Taliban protest at a university lecture in Kabul earlier this month. — AFP
September 25, 2021 – 1:54pm
Prime Minister Narendra Modi raises concerns about Pakistan during talks with US President Joe Biden as well as a broader four-way summit with the leaders of Australia and Japan, according to Indian officials, who said the others concurred.
“There was a clear sense that a more careful look and a more careful examination and monitoring of Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan — Pakistan’s role on the issue of terrorism — had to be kept,” Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters after the White House talks.
Khan, addressing the UN General Assembly, said that the Taliban have promised to respect human rights and build an inclusive government since taking over last month, despite global disappointment in a caretaker cabinet. — AFP