Jens Stoltenberg, 13th Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, speaks to the media on February 11, 2020 at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Thierry Monasse / Getty Images
WASHINGTON – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday blamed the Afghan government for the Taliban’s breathtaking and swift takeover, repeating what President Joe Biden said the day before.
“Ultimately, the Afghan political leadership failed to stand up to the Taliban and achieve the peaceful solution that the Afghans so badly wanted,” Stoltenberg told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
“Despite our considerable investment and sacrifice over two decades, the collapse was quick and sudden. There are many lessons to be learned,” he said, adding that “the failure of the Afghan leadership led to the tragedy we are witnessing today.”
In April, the 30-man military alliance on the side of the United States announced the withdrawal of troops stationed in Afghanistan. The start of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan goes back to the groups’ mutual defense clause known as Article 5.
The alliance has invoked Article 5 only once in its history – in defense of the United States after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
American forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001 after the group sheltered Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders who carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Two years later, US troops invaded Iraq to defeat then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. to eliminate .
“NATO allies and partners went to Afghanistan after September 11th to prevent the country from serving as a safe haven for international terrorists to attack us. In the past two decades there have been no terrorist attacks organized from Afghanistan on Allied soil, ”Stoltenberg said.
“Today’s Afghanistan is very different from 2001,” he added.
Stoltenberg’s remarks come a day after Biden criticized Afghanistan’s political leadership for enabling quick Taliban wins across the country during the withdrawal of US and NATO forces.
“The truth is, this has developed faster than we expected,” Biden said in a White House speech, adding that he was assured by the now-deposed President Ashraf Ghani that the US trained and equipped Afghan troops take up their positions.
“Mr. Ghani insisted that the Afghan forces fight, but obviously he was wrong,” said Biden.
Although the Taliban are vastly outnumbered by the Afghan military, which has long been supported by US and coalition forces, the Taliban invaded Kabul on Sunday.
Ghani fled the country on Sunday as western nations evacuated embassies amid deteriorating security conditions.
“American troops cannot and should not fight in a war and die in a war that the Afghan armed forces are unwilling to wage for themselves,” Biden said. “We gave them every chance to determine their own future. We couldn’t give them the will to fight for this future.”
“I fully support my decision. After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces, “said Biden in a memorable speech from the East Room of the White House.