Trump praised Biden for his plan to remove all remaining troops but argued that as every year, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks should be used as a time of “reflection and remembrance” for the lives lost.
“I wish Joe Biden wouldn’t use September 11th as the date to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan, for two reasons,” Trump wrote in a statement released by his office.
“First, we can and should get out earlier. Nineteen years is enough, in fact far too much and way too long […] Secondly, September 11th represents a very sad event and period for our country and should remain a day of reflection and remembrance honoring those great souls we lost.”
“Getting out of Afghanistan is a wonderful and positive thing to do. I planned to withdraw on May 1st, and we should keep as close to that schedule as possible.”
Biden announced last week that he is pulling 2,500 U.S. troops from Afghanistan between May 1 and Sept.
“We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives,” Biden said in his Wednesday speech. “Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is degraded in Afghanistan and it’s time to end the forever war.”
“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” Biden continued.
“I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”
Trump said in November that he wanted “all” troops home by Christmas, and for a full withdrawal to be completed by January 15, before Biden’s inauguration.
At the time, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham was in support of the move, saying, “We have a chance to end this war in Afghanistan smartly and well. But we’re going to need a residual US force, a counterterrorism presence for years to come, because I don’t trust the Taliban to police al Qaeda and ISIS.”
Graham is now calling the move “dumber than dirt,” saying Biden was “paving the way for another 9/11.”
“President Biden will have, in essence, canceled an insurance policy against another 9/11,” Graham said in a statement.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is also critical of Biden’s move, saying U.S. troops in Afghanistan had “helped keep radical Islamic terrorism in check.”
“Apparently, we’re to help our adversaries ring in the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by gift-wrapping the country and handing it right back to them,” McConnell said.
Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy
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U.S. House Votes to Permanently Freeze $6 Billion Iranian Funds Amid Hostage Exchange Controversy
The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation to permanently freeze $6 billion in Iranian funds that were initially slated for release by the Biden administration as part of a hostage exchange with Tehran earlier this year. The measure passed in a 307-119 vote, with the majority of Republicans supporting it, according to The Hill. Notably, Kentucky GOP Rep. Thomas Massie was the sole Republican dissenting voice, aligning with 118 Democrats.
The frozen funds, originally held in South Korea, were part of a deal where Seoul committed to paying Iran for oil before the U.S. imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic in 2019. Subsequently, these funds were transferred to Qatar as part of the exchange. However, in the aftermath of an Oct. 7 Hamas raid on Israel, where more than 200 hostages were seized and around 1,200 civilians were killed, both Qatar and the U.S. agreed to refreeze the funds.
The decision to permanently freeze the funds reflects the growing controversy surrounding the hostage exchange and the broader implications of releasing substantial financial resources to Iran. Tehran’s support for Hamas and its proxies’ heightened hostilities in the Middle East have contributed to the contentious nature of this issue.
As the legislation progresses, it further underscores the complex dynamics in the region and the United States’ response to Iran’s involvement in activities that destabilize the Middle East. The vote outcome signals a bipartisan stance on this matter, with implications for U.S.-Iran relations and the ongoing challenges of navigating geopolitical complexities.
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