U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) questions Zalmay Khalilzad, special envoy for reconciliation to Afghanistan, during a Senate Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan.
Susan Walsh | Swimming pool | Reuters
Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, vowed to hold the Biden administration accountable for the botched execution of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
In a long statement Tuesday, the New Jersey Democrat issued one of the harshest criticisms of President Joe Biden from within the party.
“In implementing this flawed plan, I am disappointed that the Biden administration clearly failed to properly assess the impact of a swift US withdrawal.
“The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will continue to exercise its oversight role with a hearing on US policy towards Afghanistan, including the Trump administration’s flawed negotiations with the Taliban and the Biden administration’s flawed execution of the US withdrawal,” added he added.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Menendez’s testimony.
Menendez’s censure comes just days after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan when political leaders and government security forces fled Kabul. Analysts say the well-wired withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, a plan drafted by the Trump administration and implemented by Biden, is responsible for the Taliban’s rapid advance last week.
The Taliban have so far promised amnesty to former government officials and are currently working with US forces to keep Kabul airport open for military and civilian flights.
Read more about CNBC’s political coverage:
But Menendez, who called on the Biden government in May to reconsider its planned troop withdrawal, said Tuesday that he intends to use his leadership on the Foreign Relations Committee to “address the looming humanitarian and human rights disaster under a Taliban-led regime” to tackle.
“Our nation’s reputation is at stake and our entire government must make every effort to achieve that goal,” he added. “In connection with our withdrawal and its aftermath, there has been clear policy enforcement and intelligence failures.”
Senator Jim Risch, the senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, raised similar frustrations on Monday, saying in a press release that the exit of the Biden administration leaves the US vulnerable to future harm.
“This hasty and political decision to withdraw without taking our counter-terrorism priorities into account will allow Afghanistan to serve as the future platform for terrorist attacks against the United States and our partners,” said the Idaho Republican.
Biden defended the withdrawal in a blunt speech on Monday. He described the war in Afghanistan as a lost cause for the US and pointed out how quickly Afghan troops fell to the Taliban. He also said, “The money stops with me.”