Chairman McCaul Delivers Opening Remarks at Hearing on the Biden Administration’s Afghanistan Policy Since the U.S. Withdrawal
Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul gave the following remarks at a full committee hearing regarding the Biden administration’s disastrous Afghanistan policy, which has led to the growth of terrorism, the loss of rights for Afghan women and girls, the taking of American hostages, and the theft of humanitarian aid.
– Remarks as Delivered –
Following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the country is no better off today than when the United States first entered.
After 20 years of blood and treasure, any progress made has been erased.
It didn’t have to be this way.
This administration’s deadly and chaotic withdrawal was ill conceived from the very start – there were no plans for enduring peace and the support of the Afghan people.
The Taliban, who now control Afghanistan, are terrorists who impose theocratic edicts to oppress the Afghan people. They abuse women and steal humanitarian aid from starving Afghans.
They partner with terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda and Tehreek-e-Taliban.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s leader and Bin Laden’s top lieutenant was living in downtown Kabul under the protection of the Haqqani network and the Taliban. Specifically, the Taliban’s Minister of the Interior and Haqqani leader, Siraj Haqqani.
The Taliban holds several American hostages. In fact, the Committee just heard from Anna Corbett, whose husband has been hostage in Afghanistan for over a year.
This is unacceptable and shows the deeply flawed approach this administration has taken since the Taliban regained control.
Under Taliban rule, women and girls describe their day-to-day lives as living under “house arrest.” They are barred from public places and are not allowed to travel outside their homes without a male chaperone.
Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls are banned from receiving an education above the sixth grade.
Now, Afghanistan is currently facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
People are starving. In fact, 15.3 million Afghans are food insecure and nearly one million children needed lifesaving treatment last year due to malnutrition.
And the recent earthquakes in October of 2023 have made the deteriorating situation even worse.
The United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, spending more than $2.5 billion on assistance for Afghanistan since the withdrawal. Unfortunately, we know that the Taliban are engaged in theft and diversion of these funds to serve their malign purposes.
What troubles me is that the Biden administration is pursuing a policy of engagement at all costs and has failed to hold the Taliban to account for their crimes.
The Biden administration meets with the Taliban frequently, praise the Taliban often, and haphazardly send billions of tax-payer dollars into Afghanistan.
Through these policies, the Biden administration has all but recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
And yet, over the past two years, on every metric, the Taliban has only become worse under this administration’s policies.
On women and girls: Seemingly every week, the Taliban announce new edicts stripping away their rights.
On diversion of humanitarian aid: Taliban interference has increased by 32 percent this year.
On support for terrorism: The Tehreek-e-Taliban – who the Taliban have equipped with weapons the U.S. left behind – is increasingly conducting terrorist attacks. And Al Qaeda remains safely in Afghanistan under Taliban protection.
On hostages: Today there are more Americans detained by the Taliban than at any point since the U.S. withdrawal.
Obviously, the Biden administration’s policies are not working.
I want to be clear that my heart is with the people of Afghanistan who are suffering under the Taliban. I believe it is our moral imperative to help these people who the Biden administration abandoned.
However, we must be clear-eyed about our priorities, and we must develop policies that will ensure the U.S. is supporting innocent Afghans, not the Taliban.
Anything less, signals a failure of American leadership.