The future appears uncertain for Afghanistan following its takeover by the Taliban as US-led forces withdrew from the country after 20 years of occupation. As other nations continue to evacuate their citizens, the Central Asian country has been struck by political and humanitarian crises.
Ex-Acting CIA Director Says Jihadists 'Absolutely Inspired' by Taliban Victory, Hectic US Withdrawal
© AP Photo / Manuel Balce CenetaFormer CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell
© AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta
President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, resulting in the country quickly falling into the hands of the Taliban*, has prompted criticism not only from his political opponents, but also members of previous Democratic administrations.
Michael Morell, former acting CIA director under Barack Obama, has criticised the trouble-ridden US withdrawal from Afghanistan, claiming that it ended up inspiring jihadists around the world.
"I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world. The Taliban is saying, we just didn't defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world's greatest military power, ever. So there's a celebration going on".
Morell added that now, with American and NATO troops no longer stationed in the country, Afghanistan is going to draw jihadists from all parts of the world, becoming a "jihadist central" and thus a more dangerous place than in 2001. This "without a doubt" puts the US at more risk, the ex-CIA acting director said.
The US started to withdraw from Afghanistan in May 2021 on the orders of President Joe Biden, who argued that there was never a good moment to end the war that had lasted for almost 20 years. The withdrawal was complete on 30 August, but by that time, the Taliban* had seized the entire country and the US administration landed in hot water for failing to extract all Americans and Afghans who used to help NATO, before leaving the country.
Biden still stood firm behind his decision to withdraw troops, arguing it was the right decision. Prior to the Taliban's takeover of Kabul on 15 August, the president also claimed that the Afghan government had enough military forces and equipment to withstand the Taliban assault. Members of his administration now claim the rapid advance of the Taliban during the offensive came as a surprise to them.
White House officials also face grilling in the US Congress on the "fatally flawed" withdrawal, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken already having suffered a round of criticism and tough questions on 14 September, coming from members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Lawmakers are trying to figure out why the evacuation of civilians from Afghanistan was not properly prepared and why it was carried out so chaotically, with thousands of Afghans pouring into Kabul Airport and its premises following the fall of the capital to the Taliban.
*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other countries.