President Joe Biden is expected to formally announce on Wednesday that the U.S. will withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by September 11, multiple outlets are reporting Tuesday, citing U.S. officials. This prompted a fiery retort from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who called it “a disaster in the making” and “dumber than dirt”.
The move will bring the almost two-decade war, America’s longest, to an end by the date of the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which prompted the initial invasion of Afghanistan.
The decision was reported earlier on Tuesday by The Washington Post.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the decision will revise a Trump administration plan for a withdrawal by May 1 of this year. Former President Donald Trump was especially vocal about ending this war and other “forever wars”.
The U.S. is coordinating the withdrawal of its roughly 3,500 troops with NATO allies, which now contribute the bulk of forces to the conflict with its own 6,500 troops, officials said, according to The Journal.
Biden concluded that al Qaeda and associated groups no longer pose a threat to the U.S. homeland and that keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan is no longer necessary, officials said, according to the newspaper. Officials also said that the withdrawal by September 11 is a hard deadline and not a target based on conditions on the ground, as opposed to other drawdown plans.
Notably, U.S. forces will instead be scattered across South and Central Asia, according to The Journal. This, according to the newspaper, could let the U.S. to maintain a military presence in the surrounding region and allow it to monitor Afghanistan all while ending the conflict.
Sen. Graham was particularly upset by reports of the decision, and said in a Tuesday statement that a “full withdrawal from Afghanistan is so irresponsible, it makes the Biden Administration policies at the border look sound,” also accusing Biden of, “in essence,” canceling “an insurance policy against another 9/11.”
“A residual counterterrorism force would be an insurance policy against the rise of radical Islam in Afghanistan that could pave the way for another attack against our homeland or our allies,” Graham argued.
“I hope our military advised against this withdrawal because I know what is most likely to happen: a reigniting of the Afghan Civil War and reversing all gains for Afghan women and children,” the senator continued. “The void created by this fight benefits ISIS and al Qaeda, who still reside in Afghanistan.”
“I think it is insane to withdraw at this time given the conditions that exist on the ground in Afghanistan,” Graham also said. “I know people are frustrated, but wars don’t end because you’re frustrated. Wars end when the threat is eliminated.”
“President Trump kept a residual force, but he did set a hard withdrawal date, which I thought was very bad, ill-conceived policy.”
“Now we have, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the complete withdrawal in spite of all the intelligence assessments, Graham continued. “I find it ironic that, given the sacrifices we’ve made to move Afghanistan forward, prevent another 9/11, and ensure the enduring defeat of al Qaeda and ISIS, that on the 20th anniversary of the attack we’re paving the way for another attack.”
“All of America’s allies were willing to stay if we were willing to stay,” the senator concluded. “To announce a full withdrawal sends a signal of incredible weakness to adversaries like al Qaeda, ISIS, Hezbollah, China, Russia, and Iran.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.
Report finds Hamas ‘systematically and intentionally’ committed sexual crimes and ‘sadistic practices’
The Association of Rape Crisis Centers of Israel (ARCCI) released a comprehensive report which explained that sexual crimes were committed “systematically and intentionally” during the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, 2023.
The report found that the Hamas attack on October 7 included violent rape, which usually involved threats and weapons. Additionally, many of those rapes occurred collectively, with collaboration among the perpetrators and sometimes conducted in front of witnesses, such as family members.
Fox News notes the rapists would sometimes engage in what the report called “sadistic practices,” which included binding and tying up the victims, mutilating genital organs – including severed breasts – and using weapons as part of the rape.
“The information and testimonies we provide clarify beyond any doubt what occurred, but significant parts of the story are still ahead of us,” Orit Sulitzeanu, executive director of the ARRCI, wrote in the opening remarks of the “Silent Cry” report. The ARCCI is an umbrella organization of Israel’s regional rape crisis centers.
“Since sexual assault typically involves delayed disclosure, especially during wartime, the picture presented in the report is still preliminary,” Sulitzeanu warned. “In the months and years to come, depending on the choices of the survivors, we may be able to bring a fuller story of the sexual assaults on Oct. 7 and thereafter to the fore.”
Fox News adds that the report cited a New York Times interview with four Nova festival rescue workers who described finding women’s bodies with spread legs, without underwear and with hands bound behind their backs.
These “sadistic practices” aimed to increase the victim’s humiliation, and in many cases the rapists would subsequently kill the victims.
“From the testimonies and information provided, it emerges that the sexual assaults committed in the Oct. 7 attack and thereafter were carried out systematically and deliberately,” the report concluded.
The report stressed the difficulty in obtaining evidence and testimony, noting that the process already proves difficult enough in times of peace and therefore faces even greater stumbling blocks in times of war.
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