Former US ambassador to Afghanistan blames Trump for the resurgence of the Taliban
- The Taliban have seized much of Afghanistan since the US began drawing down troops in April.
- Ryan Crocker gave some of the blame to Donald Trump for sidelining the Afghan government in 2020.
- Crocker served as the US ambassador to Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012.
Ryan Crocker, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan, has given former President Donald Trump some of the blame for the Taliban's resurgence.
As of Friday, Taliban insurgents controlled at least 12 of the country's 34 provincial capitals, the Associated Press reported. The group captured Kandahar, the country's second-largest city, early Friday.
The US military has maintained a presence in Afghanistan since 2001, but US forces have now almost entirely left the country, leaving the role of deterring the Taliban to the Afghan army.
Speaking with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday, Crocker said much of the blame rested with Trump, who he said had demoralized the Afghan military while president.
-Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) August 13, 2021
"It began under President Trump when he authorized negotiations between the US and the Taliban without the Afghan government in the room," said Crocker, who served as ambassador from 2011 to 2012.
"That was a key Taliban demand. We acceded to it, and it was a huge demoralizing factor for the Afghan government and its security forces.
"We pressed them to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners. Eventually they did it and watched them go back into the fight against the people who released them."
In 2019, Trump told the Taliban he would slowly remove US troops from Afghanistan and free Taliban prisoners if the group committed to stopping attacks against the US.
The US and the Taliban eventually signed a conditional peace deal in February, with Trump speaking directly with a Taliban cofounder in March, angering Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who felt sidelined.
Trump also was said to have wanted to invite Taliban leaders to Camp David, the US president's official countryside retreat, and ignored the National Security Council in favor of a small circle of advisors in the process.
On Thursday, the State Department said it was starting to pull US personnel from the nation's embassy in Kabul as a safety measure.
Later that day, the Pentagon said it was sending 3,000 extra troops to the Kabul airport, joining the approximately 650 US troops left in the city.
Though US troops have departed, the US military is still conducting airstrikes launched from outside the country to destroy military equipment used by the Taliban.
Also on Thursday, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, told CNN the situation in Afghanistan was due to "20 years of American misjudgments."
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