In the wake of the Taliban’s recent capture of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, it looks like the U.S. Republican Party is quietly scrubbing traces of the former president’s deals with the militant Islamist group.
The GOP has pulled a webpage praising Donald Trump over his administration’s “historic peace agreement with the Taliban.” The page, which has been archived here, was first instated in the midst of last year’s presidential election.
“Trump has continued to take the lead in peace talks as he signed a historic peace agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan, which would end America’s longest war,” the now-deleted page read. It also noted that while the now ex-president has “championed peace,” Joe Biden had pushed “endless wars.” Elsewhere on the page, the GOP noted that Trump had “taken action to defeat ISIS and eliminate dangerous leaders.”
It’s worth noting here that Abdul Ghani Baradar, who co-founded the Taliban in Afghanistan and went on to become the organisation’s top-ranking political chief, was released from Pakistani jail at the U.S.’s request while Trump was in office.
How quickly can the politics around Afghanistan change? Here's a section on the RNC's website in June; click it now and you get a 404 error. (Rest of page was about Kosovo/Israel-Arab deals.) https://t.co/kDJo95QfiF pic.twitter.com/HkZok9mgJW
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) August 15, 2021
Despite Trump’s bombastic critiques of Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Trump’s administration was actually the one that initiated talks to withdraw U.S. forces from the region — a move the majority of Americans supported. On the now-deleted webpage, the GOP notes that on February 2, 2020, the Trump administration sighed a “preliminary peace agreement” with the Taliban that “sets the stage” to end the U.S.-Afghan war that had been raging for more than two decades.
The webpage notes that the Trump administration had negotiated a deal that would see “nearly 5,000″ U.S. troops withdrawn from the region in exchange for “a Taliban agreement to not allow Afghanistan to be used for transnational terrorism.”
As others have pointed out, these peace talks that were brokered under Trump’s watch imposed relatively few conditions on the Taliban when they were signed — and the military organisation isn’t violating any of them right now, in spite of the chaos being wrought in Kabul, where countless Afghans are attempting to flee the country now controlled by religious fundamentalist militants.
Biden, for his part, has defended his own withdrawal tactics, saying he was left with little choice in the wake of the Trump administration’s previous deals with the Taliban — though many are blaming the current president for the disastrous withdrawal of U.S. troops.
“When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor — which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019 — that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001,” he said in a statement on Saturday.
“When I became president, I faced a choice — follow through on the deal … or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict.”