UPDATED 2:30 PM PT – Thursday, April 15, 2021
More Republicans on Capitol Hill have spoken out, urging the Biden administration to re-evaluate its decision to remove U.S. troops from the Middle East. In a press briefing Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the complete “pulling out” of U.S. soldiers from Afghanistan could bring more terrorist threats in the future.
He urged the White House to not forget what’s at stake by reminding officials that the Taliban do not have the United States’ best interests at heart.
“I don’t trust the Taliban to look out for American interests, but we’re finding ourselves in a very precarious situation,” Graham stated. “Again, there are no great outcomes, but this is the worst possible outcome — to pull up and leave and hope that things will turn out well. That did not happen in Iraq and it did not happen here.”
Despite the length of the war, Graham said removing troops is a high risk. He also claimed the enemy is nowhere close to quitting.
Sen. Lindsey Graham on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan: “President Biden, unfortunately, has chosen the highest risk option available, which is to leave no matter what.” pic.twitter.com/HYlQnIjy66
— The Hill (@thehill) April 14, 2021
“I know people are frustrated by the length of the war, the money we spent, the lives we lost,” Graham noted. “And all I would say is: Never forget the enemy. It takes two to end the war. Folks, they’re not close to quitting. The Taliban are different than Al-Qaeda and ISIS. I don’t believe they will attack us here at home, but I believe they will allow Al-Qaeda and ISIS to roam freely in Afghanistan. They don’t have the will or the capability to police them and I think this is a high-risk strategy.”
Graham emphasized that he prays he is wrong.
Other Republicans have made similar comments that criticized Joe Biden for publicly announcing the given date of the troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) told One America News that announcing the date was like giving a “heads up” to the Taliban, as they now have time to “plan and strategize” for when the withdrawal will take place.
Hice also said a troop removal could bring instability to the entire region.
Graham tells me he offered to meet with Biden on March 22 to discuss leaving a “residual force” in Afghanistan. He says Biden didn’t take him up on his offer. Graham says he was able to convince Trump not to leave Syria. “This is a bad decision that will come back to haunt us.” pic.twitter.com/QcMixDwpgL
— Kellie Meyer (@KellieMeyerNews) April 14, 2021
“If we leave entirely, I believe that it will bring instability to the region and it offers opportunity for more terrorists — like Al-Qaeda did before — to exercise leadership for terrorist activities around the world,” Hice said. “So, I’m a little dubious of a full withdrawal and especially declaring that and promoting it to the world when it’s going to take place.”
The Biden White House has also been criticized for announcing a withdrawal unilaterally in contrast with the Trump administration, which leveraged the pull-out of U.S. troops as a way to extract specific concessions from the Taliban.