Former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic nominee for president Hillary Clinton raised concerns over President Joe Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, warning of “two huge consequences” of leaving the war-torn region in an interview Sunday.
The first consequence is “the potential collapse of the Afghan government and a takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban,” Clinton said.
She warned that civil war might resume in the country if American troops leave, a concern shared by U.S. commanders in the region who opposed the withdrawal over fears the Taliban could overrun Afghan armed forces without American military support.
Clinton added that the United States has an obligation to protect “many thousands of Afghans” who worked with the U.S. and NATO, those who “stood up and spoke out for women’s rights and human rights.”
“I hope that the administration in concert with the Congress will have a very large visa program and will begin immediately to try to provide that channel for so many Afghans to utilize so that they are not left in danger,” she said, predicting a “huge refugee outflow” if Afghanistan spirals into civil war.
The second major consequence of U.S. withdrawal, according to Clinton, is the “resumption of activities by global terrorist groups, most particularly Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.”
Acknowledging that there has been a “sharp drop in both capacity and action on behalf of Islamic terrorist groups,” Clinton said she wouldn’t count on that “downward spiral” lasting if the Taliban retakes power and provides refuge for Islamic terrorist groups.
“The Taliban has never been willing to separate itself from Al-Qaeda,” Clinton pointed out.
“It’s one thing to pull out troops that have been supporting security in Afghanistan, supporting the Afghan military, leaving it pretty much to fend for itself, but we can’t afford to walk away from the consequences of that decision,” Clinton concluded.
The United States officially began to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan last week, with President Joe Biden’s ultimate goal being a complete exit from the country by Sept. 11 — commemorating the 20-year-anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
Biden’s timetable for withdrawal broke an agreement between the Trump administration and the Taliban to have American military forces leave Afghanistan by May 1. In response, the Taliban said Friday it will “take every counteraction it deems appropriate against the occupying forces,” possibly signaling new attacks on U.S. forces as they attempt to leave the country.