Russia, China, and Iran may reportedly exploit those left behind by Washington
Former Afghan security personnel with "sensitive knowledge of US operations" left behind following the withdrawal of American forces from the country are vulnerable to recruitment and coercion by Russia, China, and Iran, Republican lawmakers said in an unreleased interim report, as cited by Reuters on Sunday.
"This is especially true given reports that some former Afghan military personnel have fled to Iran," Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee wrote on the first anniversary of the seizure of Kabul by the Taliban.
The militants captured the Afghan capital with little to no resistance in August 2021, during the final stage of the withdrawal of US forces. The fall of Kabul prompted hectic evacuations by Western countries of their nationals and Afghan helpers.
A committee aide told the Washington Post that around 3,000 Afghan security personnel crossed into Iran, taking their equipment and vehicles with them. "We believe this happened because they were not evacuated by the US or our allies, and therefore had no other option," the aide said.
The report accuses President Joe Biden of mishandling the withdrawal process and states that over 800 US citizens were left behind when the evacuation concluded on August 31, 2021, according to the Post. The paper cited an aide as saying that 84 US citizens were trying to leave Afghanistan as of late last month.
Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Face the Nation on CBS on Sunday that the Biden administration had "no plan" for the withdrawal.
The White House rejected the report as partisan and "riddled with inaccurate characterizations, cherry-picked information and false claims."
"When President Biden took office, he was faced with a choice: ramp up the war and put even more American troops at risk, or finally end the United States' longest war after two decades of American presidents sending US troops to fight and die in Afghanistan," Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said.
The report, titled, 'A Strategic Failure: Assessing the Administration's Afghanistan Withdrawal', is expected to be made public this week, according to The Hill.