New Delhi: Top US defence officials have said the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan can be traced back to a deal between the group and the Trump administration, BBC reported.
The so-called Doha agreement was signed in February 2020 and set a date for the US to withdraw its troops.
Gen Frank McKenzie said the deal had a “really pernicious effect” on the Afghan government and military.
Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin agreed, saying the agreement had helped the Taliban get “stronger”.
Gen McKenzie told the committee the Doha agreement had a strong psychological effect on the Afghan government because it set a date for “when they could expect all assistance to end”, the report said.
He said he had believed “for quite a while” that if the US reduced the number of its military advisers in Afghanistan below 2,500, the Afghan government and military would inevitably collapse.
After the Doha agreement, he said the troop reduction ordered by President Biden in April was “the other nail in the coffin”.
Austin said that by committing the US to ending air strikes against the Taliban, the Doha agreement meant the Islamist group “got stronger, they increased their offensive operations against Afghan security forces, and the Afghans were losing a lot of people on a weekly basis”.
The defence officials previously spoke to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, where Gen Milley and Gen McKenzie said they had recommended keeping a force of 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, ahead of the full US withdrawal in August, BBC reported.
Gen Milley also said the Taliban takeover would make it harder to protect Americans from terrorist attacks, as he described the group as a terrorist organisation that “still has not broken ties with al-Qaeda”.