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One Year After Biden's Afghanistan Exit, Accountability Lacks

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Idrees Ali and Jonathan Landy

WASHINGTON — When exhausted U.S. military planners finished pulling out and pulling out of Afghanistan a year ago, government-wide Officials trained themselves for heavy public scrutiny. About how the Taliban reclaimed power and how America's longest war ended in chaos.

But as the United States marks his one-year anniversary this month, some U.S. officials and experts say President Joe Biden's administration will continue to grow from his Twenty Years War and victory over the Taliban. He said he moved forward without properly assessing the lessons learned.

Also, 13 of his US soldiers died at Kabul's airport, leaving hundreds of US citizens and tens of thousands of Afghans in chaos. There has also been no public accountability for the evacuation operation, they said.

"We need to open up his 20-year ugly history book of Afghanistan to understand why it failed," said the U.S. special Inspector General John Sopko said.

These lessons are especially important at a time when the regime is pouring billions of dollars into Ukraine's fight against Russia, Sopko told Reuters.

But despite the Taliban erasing women's rights, harboring al-Qaeda extremists, and executing and torturing former government officials, US policymakers are now criticizing Ukraine. The Russian onslaught and escalating tensions with China are daunting.

The Biden administration has launched one of its largest airlifts ever, his pull-out and withdrawal operation, with more than 3,500 U.S. and allied foreign troops and hundreds of thousands. of Afghans.

In 15 days, this evacuation brought him to safety over 124,000 Americans and Afghans. Tens of thousands of Afghans, many of whom had served in the US military, have been resettled to the US in the largest US refugee operation since the Vietnam War.

Indeed, Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, will complete the withdrawal of troops by May 2021 without processing a large number of visa applications from Afghans who worked for the US government.

"We have taken over our deadline in Afghanistan, but have no plans to withdraw," said a National Security Council spokesman. Told.

However, some US officials, experts and private evacuation organizers say the government avoided responsibility for misreading the speed of the Taliban's advance.

The US military and the State Department are preparing a so-called "post-mortem review" of their role in the withdrawal. However, it is unclear whether these reports will be made public.

"It's accountability to the Americans left behind, the allies left behind, the 13 Gold Star families (of US troops killed)."

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin sent back the military's first review draft. Two US officials said they were unhappy with the limited insight it provided.

The report is now complete and Austin is reviewing it, one official said. A State Department spokesman declined to say when or how the report would be released. Another official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, "We're going to have to closely monitor our performance over the past year." U.S. military officials have concluded that they will not be held accountable for the drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians, including two children. The Pentagon said it would compensate the families and relocate them. But while U.S. officials said there had been progress, nearly a year passed without either.

The congressional committee authorized by Biden to study the history of US intervention and withdrawal is not yet functioning because it has not named a co-chair.

Afghanistan briefly returned to the headlines this month after a CIA drone strike killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. It was the first known attack on Afghanistan by Washington since US troops withdrew, and Biden gave a televised address to mark his success.

The strike could complicate already difficult negotiations. Officials are working with the Taliban to seek the release of billions of dollars in foreign-owned Afghan central bank assets and an end to human rights abuses. The United States is also Afghanistan's largest donor of humanitarian aid.

But in the past year, Afghanistan has largely faded into Washington's background. Congress has held few hearings to analyze how U.S. efforts there failed and reversed many limited gains in Afghanistan. Current and former officials say they have concerns about the US intelligence-gathering capabilities despite Zawahiri's killing. Also, the military failed to sign base agreements with countries surrounding Afghanistan.

Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center think tank, said Washington has shown no willingness to think about what went wrong in Afghanistan. "I was surprised that much in Washington seemed to be essentially putting Afghanistan in the rearview mirror and trying to move on," Kugelman said. (Reporting by Idris Ali and Jonathan Landey of Washington; additional reporting by Phil Stewart; editing by Mary Milliken and Peter Graf)