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Trump calls Afghanistan collapse ‘most humiliating’ moment for US

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(Last Updated On: August 18, 2021)

Former President Donald Trump described the recent events in Afghanistan as the worst humiliation in American history but defended the agreement his administration struck with the Taliban last year.

“It’s a great thing that we’re getting out, but nobody has ever handled a withdrawal worse than Joe Biden,” the former president told Fox News Tuesday. 

“This is the greatest embarrassment, I believe, in the history of our country,” he said. 

Trump sat down for his first interview since the Taliban marched into Kabul Sunday, climaxing a 96-hour conquest that saw Afghanistan’s major cities and provincial capitals fall with little resistance, Reuters reported. 

While he was full of criticism for the Biden administration, Trump also at times echoed his successor’s address to the nation Monday, which cast blame on Afghan military and political leaders for their battlefield collapse and the resulting scenes of chaos.

“I knew they [Afghan security forces] weren’t going to fight … I said, ‘Why are they fighting? Why are these Afghan soldiers fighting against the Taliban?’” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “And I was told some very bad information by a lot of different people.

“The fact is, they’re among the highest-paid soldiers in the world. They were doing it for a paycheck, because once we stopped, once we left, they stopped fighting … The fact is, our country was paying the Afghan soldiers a fortune. So we were sort of bribing them to fight, and that’s not what it’s all about.”

By contrast, Trump repeatedly praised the Taliban as “good fighters” — at one point telling Hannity that “you have to give them credit for that” — and claimed he got along better with the Islamic fundamentalists than recently deposed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country as Taliban forces closed in, Reuters reported. 

“I never had a lot of confidence, frankly, in Ghani,” the former president recalled. “I said that openly and plainly. I thought he was a total crook. I thought he got away with murder. He spent all his time wining and dining our senators. The senators were in his pocket. That was one of the problems that we had, but I never liked him, and I guess based on his escape with cash, I don’t know, maybe that’s a true story. I would suspect it is. All you have to do is look at his lifestyle, study his houses where he lives. He got away with murder in many different ways.”

In February 2020, the Trump administration announced a cease-fire agreement with the Taliban that called for the withdrawal of all US combat troops from Afghanistan by May 1 of this year. On Monday, Biden argued that his hands were tied by the agreement, Reuters reported. 

“There would have been no ceasefire after May 1. There was no agreement protecting our forces after May 1. There was no status quo of stability without American casualties after May 1,” the president said. “There was only the cold reality of either following through on the agreement to withdraw our forces or escalating the conflict and sending thousands more American troops back into combat in Afghanistan, lurching into the third decade of conflict.”

Trump said Tuesday that the agreement was forged after what he called a “strong conversation” with a Taliban leader he identified as Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a contender to become the new supreme leader of the new government, Reuters reported. 

“I told him up front, I said, “Look, up front, 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 you won’t even believe it,’” he recounted.

As a result of the agreement, Trump claimed, “we lost no soldiers in the last year-and-a-half because of me and because of the understanding that we had … 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.”

Summing up two decades of American efforts in Afghanistan, Trump described the initial decision to invade in October 2001 as “the worst decision ever made” and argued that the US should have limited its retaliation for the 9/11 attacks to airstrikes, Reuters reported. 

As more grim reports emerged of thousands of Americans stuck in Taliban territory, with checkpoints between them and Kabul’s international airport, Trump said: “ I looked at that big, monster cargo plane yesterday, with people grabbing the side and trying to get flown out of Afghanistan because of their fear, their incredible fear, and they’re blowing off the plane from 2,000 feet up in the air.” 

“Nobody’s ever seen anything like that. That blows the helicopters in Vietnam away. That’s not even a contest. This has been the most humiliating period of time I’ve ever seen.”

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Pentagon offers payment to families of victims of botched drone strike

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

The Pentagon has offered unspecified condolence payments to the family of 10 civilians who were killed in a botched U.S. drone attack in Afghanistan in August in the final days before American troops withdrew from the country.

The U.S. Defense Department said it made a commitment that included offering ex-gratia condolence payments, in addition to working with the U.S. State Department in support of the family members who were interested in relocation to the United States.

The Pentagon had said the strike targeted an Islamic State (Daesh) suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to U.S.-led troops as they completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The intelligence failure raised hard questions about future risks, particularly whether the United States can keep track of threats from Afghanistan without a presence in the country.

The confirmation of civilian deaths provided further fuel to critics of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal, which generated the biggest foreign policy crisis yet for President Joe Biden’s administration.

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NASA probe will study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)
NASA launched a first-of-its kind mission on Saturday to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, two large clusters of space rocks that scientists believe are remnants of primordial material that formed the solar system’s outer planets. Matthew Larotonda reports.
 
NASA launched a new space probe on Saturday (October 16) morning in a special 12-year mission designed to visit more asteroids than ever before.

It focuses on the Trojan asteroids, which are two large clumps of space rocks orbiting the sun. One floats ahead of Jupiter and the other behind it.

Scientists believe the rocks are leftovers from the formation of our solar system.

The probe is called “Lucy” and NASA hopes it will help us learn more about our solar system’s history.

The asteroids are also rich in carbon compounds, and may provide insights into organic materials and life on Earth.

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Turkey could run Kabul airport, says Erdogan

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

Having previously run Kabul airport, Turkey can take similar steps in the future with Qatar and Afghanistan if the three countries reach a deal, the Turkish president said on Friday.

“So far, we have had a lot of effort in Afghanistan’s infrastructure and superstructure … We were operating the Kabul Airport. In the future, if agreements can be reached, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, we can take such steps,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters.

About the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s recent visit to Turkey, Erdogan said the group asked for humanitarian aid and “made requests concerning the functionality of new process in Afghanistan.”

Erdogan vowed to provide “all manner of support” to the Afghan people as long as the interim administration “takes a just stance in protecting the rights of the Afghan people.”

He said the IEA should also take a fair stance in their relations with Turkey.

An IEA delegation visited Turkey on Thursday to discuss bilateral issues, as well as cooperation on the future of Afghanistan.

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