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‘Afghanistan is unraveling.’ McConnell skewers Biden again on withdrawal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday again lambasted President Joe Biden’s rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, claiming that the Taliban is already closing in on a military victory that will spark a humanitarian crisis.

“Our reckless rush to the exits is becoming a global embarrassment,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, issuing his second searing critique of the president’s decision in as many weeks. “He’s ignoring the truth unfolding before our very own eyes. Afghanistan is unraveling.”

McConnell cited the Taliban’s retaking of districts across the country and the lack of specific plans to protect Afghan allies as the gravest reasons for concern.

With the overwhelming majority of U.S. troops and NATO allies already out of the country, the Taliban has been on the offensive, driving Afghan families from their homes, murdering Afghan special forces and reasserting power in the more remote areas of the country. The top commander of U.S. and NATO forces, Gen. Austin Scott Miller, stepped down from his post on Monday.

But some analysts disagree with McConnell that a complete Taliban takeover is a foregone conclusion.

“I do think there’s a serious danger of Afghanistan government collapse in the next few months, although there’s nothing inevitable about it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a Brookings Institute foreign policy analyst, appearing on C-SPAN Tuesday. “I think a stalemate of some kind — probably with some back and forth motion — that’s more likely than an outright Taliban takeover.”

But McConnell portrayed a humanitarian crisis as close to inevitable.

“The humanitarian crisis may well be historic,” he warned. “President Biden and his team are desperate to duck hard questions about Afghanistan. But the American people deserve answers.”

Some Democrats are also beginning to voice concerns about how the Biden administration plans to protect Afghan allies, including interpreters.

“We’re going to see pictures of them lined up against a wall and machine gunned. And that’s not an exaggeration,” said Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont on MSNBC.

McConnell urged relevant Senate committees to provide rigorous oversight of the consequences of the withdrawal, including how U.S. intelligence collection could be hampered and whether Russia or China will attempt to assert themselves more forcefully in the region.

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