The world’s eyes are on American President Joe Biden amid the escalating crisis in Afghanistan, which saw the swift invasion of the Taliban into every Afghan city and the ouster of its U.S.-backed government over the weekend. America’s closest allies and world leaders are now blasting Biden for his disastrous withdrawal from the country, which left them questioning his leadership, or lack thereof.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that key U.S. allies are complaining “that they were not fully consulted on a policy decision that potentially puts their own national security interests at risk – in contravention of President Biden’s promises to recommit to global engagement,” adding that “many around the world are wondering whether they could rely on the United States to fulfill long-standing security commitments stretching from Europe to East Asia.”
Some of the harshest criticism of Biden’s mishandling of the situation came from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a notable U.S. ally and top partner in the war in Afghanistan.
Johnson stated that it was "fair to say the U.S. decision to pull out has accelerated things, but this has in many ways been a chronicle of an event foretold," but called on Western leaders to cooperate to prevent Afghanistan from again turning into a "breeding ground for terrorism."
"I think it is very important that the West should work collectively to get over to that new government – be it by the Taliban or anybody else – that nobody wants Afghanistan once again to be a breeding ground for terror and we don't think it is in the interests of the people of Afghanistan that it should lapse back into that pre-2001 status," Johnson said in an interview with Sky News.
Johnson’s comments came prior to the Taliban’s conquest of Kabul, the nation’s capital.
According to the Washington Post, Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the Defense Committee in the British Parliament, echoed Johnson’s remarks, asking: “Whatever happened to ‘America is back?’”
“People are bewildered that after two decades of this big, high-tech power intervening, they are withdrawing and effectively handing the country back to the people we went in to defeat,” Ellwood stated. “This is the irony. How can you say America is back when we’re being defeated by an insurgency armed with no more than [rocket-propelled grenades], land mines and AK-47s?”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the country is “heartbroken at the situation the Afghan people find themselves in today.” The Canadian leader said that the country would be ready to accept refugees from the collapse by offering safe harbour to Afghan translators, those who worked with coalition forces, and citizens who will likely be persecuted under the Taliban regime.
Germany, a key ally in NATO, has thus far refrained from criticizing the Biden administration publicly, but analysts say the government is disturbed by the lack of consultation with Western counterparts.
“The Biden administration came to office promising an open exchange, a transparent exchange with its allies. They said the transatlantic relationship would be pivotal,” said Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook, director of the German Council on Foreign Relations. “As it is, they’re playing lip service to the transatlantic relationship and still believe European allies should fall into line with U.S. priorities.”
Arab leaders are also questioning the legitimacy of U.S. support. “What’s happening in Afghanistan is raising alarm bells everywhere,” said Riad Kahwaji, who heads the Inegma security consultancy in the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is home to one of the largest American military deployments in the Middle East.
For now, Biden has remained quiet on the state of the withdrawal amid the Taliban’s takeover of the country.