Former President Trump on Tuesday claimed he threatened to launch strikes against the chief Taliban negotiator’s home village if insurgents failed to observe the terms of a peace deal, as he blasted President Biden’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
‘It’s not the concept of leaving,’ he told Fox News anchor Sean Hannity.
‘It’s the way they withdrew. It was not even possible to believe.’
The former president has kept up a running commentary on the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan, condemning Biden’s handling of the withdrawal and insisting he would have managed a safe, swift operation when the time was right.
Biden and his officials have in turn said their hands were tied by a deal struck with the Taliban by Trump.
But the former president said he made clear in negotiations there would be consequences if Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s political chief, failed to stick to the terms of their deal.
‘We had a very strong conversation,’ he said.
‘I told them upfront, I said: ‘Look, before we start, let me just tell you right now that if anything bad happens to Americans or anybody else, or if you ever come over to our land, we will hit you with a force that no country has ever been hit with before, a force so great that you won’t even believe it, and your village, and we know where it is – and I named it – will be the first one.’
Former President Trump condemned President Biden’s handling of the Afghan withdrawal, as thousands of Americans await rescue from the country
President Biden flew back to the White House from Camp David on Tuesday evening. His approval rating has plunged and the administration is in damage limitation mode as it deals with the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan. Biden did not call any foreign leader leaders until speaking with Britain’s Boris Johnson on Tuesday afternoon
Biden stands by his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops and instead blamed Trump and Afghan leaders for the way the country collapsed
Taliban fighters patrol Kabul after sweeping through the country and seizing the Afghan capital within days. Biden is under intense pressure to explain how it could have happened
A man carries a bloodied child, as a woman lays wounded on the street after Taliban fighters use guns fire, whips, sticks and sharp objects to maintain crowd control over thousands of Afghans who continue to wait outside the Kabul Airport for a way out
Baradar flew back to Afghanistan on Tuesday and is among the leading contenders to head the new government.
The Trump administration signed a peace deal with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, last year.
It was meant to be a first step towards an overall deal between the insurgents and the Afghan government.
Critics say it simply paved the way for the U.S. departure while the Taliban never honored its part in splitting from al-Qaeda and simply waited for the international troops to leave.
Matt Lewis, conservative podcaster and author, said Trump’s naivete in negotiating with the Taliban and an invitation to Camp David (hurriedly withdrawn) was the ‘origin sin’ in the disaster.
‘I just think it is naive and hubristic to think that they would negotiate in good faith and honor their commitments,’ he said.
The former president made his comments after another frantic day in Kabul, where the U.S. and allies continued emergency evacuations of diplomats and civilians.
American officials said they were in contact with Kabul’s new rulers, who had promised safe passage for those trying to flee.
Trump said the U.S. had never suffered a worse humiliation, with thousands of ‘potential hostages’ stuck in the country.
‘You can go back to Jimmy Carter with the hostages. We all thought that was a great embarrassment and we were pulled out of that by Ronald Reagan,’ he said.
‘This is a many many times worse and you’re dealing with thousands and thousands of Americans and others that are stranded and very dangerously really stranded in Afghanistan.’
Trump told Hannity he was not opposed to the withdrawal of U.S. troops. ‘It’s the way they withdrew. It was not even possible to believe,’ he said
Mullah Baradar headed the Taliban’s political office in Doha after being freed by Pakistan in 2018. He returned to country on Tuesday, arriving to a hero’s welcome in Kandahar
Biden was forced to return to the White House on Monday after criticism that he stayed at Camp David at the weekend as the Afghan crisis unfolded
Biden had botched the withdrawal by failing to bring home civilians and billions of dollars in military hardware before U.S. troops left.
And he compared the chaotic scenes at the airport with the final 18 months of his presidency and his threat of punitive action.
‘We lost no soldiers in the last year and a half because of me and because of the understanding that we had,’ he said.
‘Think of that, in Chicago, and in New York and in other cities in the United States, many people die every weekend.
‘We lost no soldiers in Afghanistan, because they knew I wasn’t going to put up with it, and that’s what happened.’
He said he had no faith in Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country at the weekend.
‘I thought he was a crook and got away with murder,’ he said.
‘He spent all of this time wining and dining our senators. The senators were in his pocket.’
He also claimed he always knew that Afghan forces would melt away in the face of a Taliban assault.
‘They were doing it for a paycheck, because once we stopped, once we left, they stopped fighting … So we were sort of bribing them to fight, and that’s not what it’s all about,’ he said.
For all his anger, regional analysts insist both administrations erred: Trump in trusting the Taliban to abide by the peace deal and Biden in failing to predict such a rapid collapse of Afghan forces.
Lisa Curtis, an Afghanistan expert who served on Trump’s National Security Council, said Biden should have reevaluated Trump’s deal.
‘I wouldn’t call it a peace deal – I would call it more of a withdrawal deal, because I think the only thing the US really got out of it was an agreement by the Taliban not to shoot U.S. forces on their way out,’ she said.
‘We didn’t get peace, and we didn’t get a break with Al Qaeda.’
Despite criticism of his Afghan initiative, Trump has kept up a withering barrage as his successor faced his biggest foreign policy test so far.
Biden was widely criticized for spending the weekend at Camp David rather than returning immediately to the White House as the Taliban closed in on the Afghan capital Kabul
Pictured: Taliban fighters on a pick-up truck move around a market area, flocked with local Afghan people at the Kote Sangi area of Kabul on August 17, 2021, after Taliban seized control of the capital following the collapse of the Afghan government
Earlier on Tuesday, he condemned chaotic scenes at Kabul’s international airport as Afghans crowded the runway in search of a flight out.
‘What took place yesterday in Afghanistan made our withdrawal from Vietnam look like child’s play,’ he said in an emailed statement referencing the fall of Saigon, when American diplomats had to be rescued from the roof of their embassy by helicopter.
‘Perhaps in world history, there has never been a withdrawal operation that has been handled so disastrously.
‘A president who has been illegitimately elected has brought great shame, in many ways, to our Country!’
A day earlier he promised that his administration would have done things differently and mocked Biden’s absence from Washington at the weekend.
He accused Biden of surrendering first to COVID-19 and then to the Taliban.
‘The outcome in Afghanistan, including the withdrawal, would have been totally different if the Trump administration had been in charge,’ he said.
‘Who or what will Joe Biden surrender to next? Someone should ask him, if they can find him.’
Biden has said his hands were tied by Trump’s February 2020 deal with the Taliban, a deal which left out the Afghan government and promised US troops would withdraw if the Taliban agreed not to attack US forces or harbor terrorists such as Al Qaeda.
Pictured: Zabihullah Mujahid, chief spokesman for the Taliban, speaks during a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. For years, Mujahid had been a shadowy figure issuing statements on behalf of the militants
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid answers questions as he holds a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan. The
Chaos and fear spread at Kabul’s airport on August 16th as hundreds of people try to flee the Taliban
The Taliban deal was meant to set the stage for a second peace deal, between the Taliban and the Kabul government.
But experts said the Trump deal had alienated the Kabul government, particularly over an agreement to free 5000 Taliban prisoners. Afghan officials said they were blindsided by the promise and feared the prisoners would return to the battlefield.
Kabul was unhappy with some aspects of the deal, including freeing 5000 Taliban prisoners amid fears they would simply return to the battlefield.
Biden extended Trump’s initial May 1st deadline for a full military withdrawal.
But Trump said the problem was not leaving, it was the manner in which it was done.
‘Can anyone even imagine taking out our military before evacuating civilians and others who have been good to our country and who should be allowed to seek refuge?
‘In addition, these people left topflight and highly sophisticated equipment,’ he said.
‘Who can believe such incompetence?’