Former Afghan President Claimed in May His Government Could Fend Off Taliban ‘Forever’ Without US Support

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Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country allowing the Taliban to take the capital unopposed on Sunday, claimed in May that his government could resist the terrorist group’s attacks without U.S. support.

Ghani fled the country on Aug. 15 as the Islamist insurgents entered Kabul, saying he did so to avoid bloodshed. Just months earlier, he said he was confident that the government could fend off the Taliban “forever,” as President Joe Biden’s Sept. 11 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops loomed.

In an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel published on May 14, the former Afghanistan president said he was certain that his government could resist the Taliban’s attacks without further U.S. assistance. The Taliban was designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department decades ago.

“If I did anything, it was to prepare our forces for this situation,” Ghani said when pressed on the issue. “We have already effectively resisted the first wave of attacks in May … We are defensible.”

Former President Donald Trump signed a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 to withdraw U.S. troops by May 1 in exchange for the Taliban to not attack U.S. troops and cut ties with al-Qaeda. However, in April, Biden announced revised plans to withdraw all American forces from the country by Sept. 11.

Ghani told the outlet that the fundamental issue was the ambiguity whether, after May 1 passed, the U.S. troops would remain in the country or leave.

“That went on for two years. Now there is clarity, now a new chapter is being opened and new rules of the game apply,” he said.

Ghani didn’t rule out the possibility of a civil war breaking out, similar to the failed decade-long war against two Soviet-sponsored communist regimes in the country until 1989, but highlighted the country’s resilience.

By Isabel van Brugen

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