The general in charge of the withdrawal from Afghanistan said Biden had been warned that if troops left, Kabul would fall

February 29, 2020 — Donald Trump’s administration signed an agreement with the Taliban that set the terms for a US withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021. At this point, the US still had about 13,000 troops in the country.

March 1, 2020 — Then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani opposed a provision in the deal that would oblige his country to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners. “The liberation of Taliban prisoners is not the authority of America, it is the authority of the Afghan government,” Ghani said at the time.

March 4, 2020 — Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee the Taliban had promised not to attack US and coalition forces.

March 10, 2020 — Ghani, under pressure from the US government, ordered the release of 1,500 Taliban prisoners at a rate of 100 a day.

May 19, 2020 — A Pentagon Inspector General’s (IG) report on activities in Afghanistan from January 1 to March 31 found that US troop levels there were reduced by more than 4,000, despite “the Taliban escalating violence after the signing of the accord continued to escalate”.

August 18, 2020 — A follow-up report for the next quarter found that the Taliban “appear to have failed in their commitment to distance themselves from terrorist organizations in Afghanistan.”

September 3, 2020 — Afghanistan has released the last 400 Taliban prisoners under the US-Taliban deal to allow intra-Afghan peace talks to begin.

September 12, 2020 — After months of delay, Afghan government officials and Taliban officials met in Qatar for peace talks. The agreement between the US and the Taliban provided for the start of the first peace talks on March 10.

09/18/2020 — Trump said at a news conference: “We deal very well with the Taliban. They’re very tough, they’re very smart, they’re very perceptive. But you know, it’s been 19 years, and even they’re tired of fighting.”

November 16, 2020 — Republicans in Congress warned that a withdrawal could lead to a “Saigon-type situation” in Afghanistan.

November 17, 2020 — Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced that the US will reduce forces in Afghanistan to 2,500 by January 15, 2021. The same day, the Pentagon’s IG reported that negotiations between the Taliban and Afghanistan had stalled amid escalating violence.

January 15, 2021 — Miller announced that “US force strength in Afghanistan has reached 2,500,” the lowest level since 2001.

January 20, 2021 — Joe Biden was sworn in as President of the United States

February 3, 2021 — The Congressional Afghanistan Study Group, established in December 2019 to ensure a peaceful transition in Afghanistan, released a report recommending changes to the deal with the Taliban.

February 19, 2021 — At the Munich Security Conference, Biden reiterated his election promise to bring US troops home from Afghanistan.

March 7, 2021 — Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Ghani he was “concerned that the security situation could deteriorate and the Taliban could make rapid territorial gains.”

March 25, 2021 — US Special Operations Command commander Gen. Richard Clarke told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “It is clear that the Taliban have not maintained what they promised to reduce violence.”

On the same day, during a White House news briefing, Biden said it was “difficult” to meet the May 1, 2021 exit deadline

April 14, 2021 — Biden announced a new withdrawal deadline and promised that all US troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. He said he “inherited a diplomatic agreement” that “is not what I would have negotiated myself.”

“We will not rush to the exit,” Biden promised in his speech. “We will do it responsibly, consciously and safely.”

April 15, 2021 — In response to Biden’s decision to delay the full withdrawal, the Taliban released a statement saying failure to delay the withdrawal by June 1 would [the Taliban] to take all necessary countermeasures, therefore the American side will be held responsible for all future consequences.’

April 18, 2021 — Trump released a statement criticizing Biden’s September 11 withdrawal deadline, saying, “We can and should exit sooner.”

May 18, 2021 — Defense IG released a report for the first three months of 2021 that claimed the Taliban had increased their attacks on Afghan forces and appeared to be preparing for “large-scale offensives” with al-Qaeda.

May 18, 2021 — In a House hearing on US policy in Afghanistan, US Special Representative for Reconciliation in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad downplayed the prospect of a quick Taliban takeover if US forces pull out.

June 8, 2021 — Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says after foreign troops leave Afghanistan, the group’s goal is to create an “Islamic government.”

June 26, 2021 — At his first rally since leaving office, Trump boasted that Biden could not stop the process of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and acknowledged that the Afghan government would not exist once US troops left.

July 6, 2021 — The US military confirmed it has withdrawn from Bagram Airport, its largest airfield in Afghanistan.

July 8, 2021 — Biden said “speed is safety” and pushed back the timeline for the full troop withdrawal to August 31, 2021. He blamed Trump for finalizing the deal and assured Americans that a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was “not inevitable.” . He added “The likelihood of the Taliban overrunning and owning the entire country is highly unlikely,” he promised Accelerating special visas for Afghan nationals who aided the US during the war.

July 24, 2021 — At a rally in Phoenix, Trump said that when he was president, in a phone call, he told the Taliban leader that after US troops left, if “you decide to do something terrible to our country… we will come back and strike.” You harder than any country has ever been hit.’

August 6, 2021 — The Taliban took control of their first province, Nimroz, despite an agreement they signed with the US not to do so.

August 15, 2021 — Taliban fighters enter the Afghan capital Kabul. Afghan President Ghani fled the country and the US evacuated diplomats from its embassy by helicopter.

August 16, 2021 — In an address to the nation, Biden said, “I do not regret my decision to end America’s warfare in Afghanistan,” deflecting blame for the government’s rapid collapse.”

On the same day, after the collapse of the government, thousands rushed to Kabul Airport to flee Afghanistan.

August 26, 2021 — Almost 200 people died in suicide bombings at Kabul airport, including 13 US soldiers.

August 29, 2021 — Ten civilians have been killed in a US drone strike. Officials said the target was an Islamic State agent with a car full of explosives linked to ISIS-K, but the man was a longtime development worker for the US and seven of the victims were children.

August 30, 2021 — The US completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan when the US military’s last C-17s ferried the last troops out of the country. Thousands of Afghan allies have been left behind and a new report showed at least 800 Americans have been escorted home since the disengagement ended.

Over the past few days, US forces have evacuated more than 122,000 people from Afghanistan. Originally it was reported that only 100-200 Americans were left behind. The general in charge of the withdrawal from Afghanistan said Biden had been warned that if troops left, Kabul would fall

Andrew Kugle

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