Virginia leaders speak on Afghanistan Taliban resurgence

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 4:27 PM EDT
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(WDBJ) - Leaders around the Commonwealth reacted Monday to the Taliban’s recoupment of control in Afghanistan that has sent the nation into a frenzy.

Governor Ralph Northam:

“Last week I was honored to meet some of the thousands of Afghan citizens and families who have sought refuge at Fort Lee in Virginia.

“I’m coordinating with DC and have made it clear: We’re ready and willing to take thousands more. Virginia will continue to serve as safe harbor.”

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA9):

“While I have supported an orderly withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan, President Biden and his Administration have botched America’s exit.  The problem was not withdrawing American troops, but that the President’s team did not have an adequate plan to see it through.

“Due to a gross misjudgment by the Administration, we now have Americans and Afghan allies who are unnecessarily in harm’s way. It has been necessary to deploy additional troops to address the chaotic situation in Kabul.

“Congress knew this would not be a seamless exit and passed legislation to help better prepare for the transition. As early as June 29, I voted to streamline the visa process.

“On Sunday, I participated in a Members-only call with top Administration officials. On that call, I learned that not all the visas for those Afghans who served alongside our personnel had been processed.  Why on earth would the President remove troops before guaranteeing the airport and embassy would continue to be secure, the visas were processed, and US nationals and allied Afghans were safely evacuated?”

US Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA):

“What we are seeing unfold in Afghanistan is devastating. At this time, we must do everything we can to prioritize the evacuation of U.S. personnel, Afghan partners, journalists, women leaders, activists, human rights defenders, and others. I am in close communication with the Administration and our allies on the ground to ensure their safety and quick removal.”

“Keeping our nation safe is critically important. The U.S. went into Afghanistan in 2001 to defeat those who attacked the U.S. on 9/11, and 10 years later, we found and killed Osama bin Laden. We stayed an additional decade to help train Afghan security forces and create conditions for a more stable future in that country. While I believe it is now time to bring our troops home, we must continue working to maintain humanitarian and diplomatic support for Afghanistan to ensure the country does not again become a safe haven for al-Qaeda.”

As a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, Senator Kaine has often emphasized the importance of protecting the Afghans who put themselves at risk to advance U.S. objectives. Senator Kaine has been a longtime supporter of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, which enables Afghans who risked their lives supporting the U.S. to escape dangers they face due to their service to our nation. Kaine is a cosponsor of the bipartisan Afghan Allies Protection Act, much of which was included in the $2.1 billion security spending package passed on July 29, 2021.

US Senator Mark Warner (D-VA):

“The images from Afghanistan that we’ve seen in recent days are devastating.

“We went into Afghanistan to defeat al-Qa’ida and eliminate their safe harbor after September 11, 2001. Two decades later, the price of our longest war has been tremendous. We’re on track to spend $2 trillion on a conflict that has cost 6,000 U.S. service members and contractors their lives and returned tens of thousands of our fellow Americans from the battlefield with wounds both visible and invisible. We owe a debt of gratitude to all those brave men and women who have served in Afghanistan, many of whom are experiencing renewed pain and grief today as they grapple with traumatic images out of Kabul, thoughts of their fellow service members, and fears for those alongside whom they fought.

“At this moment, our top priorities must be the safety of American diplomats and other citizens in Afghanistan, and the extraction of Afghans who are at greatest risk, including those who bravely fought alongside our forces since 2001. The world must know that the United States stands by her friends in times of need, and this is one of those times. We must do everything we can to secure the airport in Kabul, restore evacuation flights, and allow our trusted Afghan partners to find safe haven in the United States or elsewhere before it is too late. We also cannot lose sight of the reason we were there in the first place and must continue to stay focused on potential threats to the United States posed by terror groups like the Haqqani network, al-Qa’ida and ISIS.

“Intelligence officials have anticipated for years that in the absence of the U.S. military the Taliban would continue to make gains in Afghanistan. That is exactly what has happened as the Afghan National Security Forces proved unable or unwilling to defend against Taliban advances in Kabul and across the country. As the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I hope to work with the other committees of jurisdiction to ask tough but necessary questions about why we weren’t better prepared for a worst-case scenario involving such a swift and total collapse of the Afghan government and security forces. We owe those answers to the American people and to all those who served and sacrificed so much.”

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