Former President Donald Trump on Monday criticized his successor for what he called the "grossly incompetent way" President Joe Biden pulled U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.
"It's not that we left Afghanistan. It's the grossly incompetent way we left!" Trump said in a terse, two-sentence statement issued through his Save America PAC.
Trump's statement followed an address to the nation by Biden on Monday in which he appeared to say he was simply adhering the Trump administration's May 1 deadline to get U.S. troops out of the country.
But critics on the political right and left and in the mainstream media have called the move, which has led to the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in a matter of days, a foreign relations nightmare. It has drawn comparisons to the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War, with similar images of helicopters ferrying Americans from the U.S. Embassy as enemy troops moved in.
Just a month earlier, Biden and top members of his administration swore such a scenario would not happen —- at least not so quickly.
The speed at which Afghan cities fell, in days rather than the months predicted by U.S. intelligence, and fear of a Taliban crackdown on freedom of speech and human rights, especially women's rights, have sparked criticism.
In a televised address on Monday afternoon, Biden said he did not regret his decision, insisting he had to decide between asking U.S. forces to fight endlessly in what he called Afghanistan's civil war or follow through on an agreement to depart negotiated by Trump, his predecessor in the White House.
"I know my decision will be criticized, but I would rather take all that criticism than pass this decision on to another president of the United States," Biden said.
The Democrat has faced a barrage of criticism, from even his own diplomats, over his handling of the U.S. exit, pulling out troops and then sending back thousands to help with the evacuation.
"Afghanistan is lost. ... Every terrorist around the world is cheering," Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters in his home state of Kentucky.
Ben Wallace, defense secretary of the United Kingdom, usually a staunch U.S. ally, said earlier on Friday that the 2020 Doha withdrawal accord struck with the Taliban by Trump was a "rotten deal."
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled on Sunday as the Islamist militants entered Kabul virtually unopposed, saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed.
Many Afghans fear the Taliban will return to past harsh practices. During their 1996-2001 rule, women could not work and punishments such as public stoning, whipping and hanging were administered.
"As far as I am concerned, Afghanistan will become a caliphate and a refuge for Islamic forces," said Andreas Eggert, state chairman of the Federal Association of German Veterans, who served in Afghanistan.
"And before long, we will see the same situation we saw 20 years ago."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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