George W. Bush calls Biden's US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan a 'mistake' and fears for safety of women left behind

GEORGE W. Bush has called Joe Biden's troop withdrawal from Afghanistan a "mistake" and said he fears for the safety of the women left behind.

The former president said: "They’re just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people, and it breaks my heart."

Bush has warned the consequences of US and NATO troops leaving the country will be "unbelievably bad."

US forces have begun a full withdrawal from Afghanistan under the orders of President Biden after spending 20 years fighting to stablise the war-torn nation.

The president has faced pressure to come up with a plan to help evacuate Afghan military helpers before next month’s US troop withdrawal.

Bush told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle: "I’m afraid Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm.

"I’m sad. Laura [Bush] and I spent a lot of time with Afghan women, and they’re scared.

"And I think about all the interpreters and people that helped not only US troops but Nato troops, and it seems like they’re just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people. And it breaks my heart."

Biden announced last week that the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan will end on August 31.

Donald Trump’s administration negotiated a deal with the Taliban to end the U.S. military mission by May 1, 2021.

After taking office Biden said American troops would be out by the 20th anniversary of the attacks of September 11.

The attacks were plotted by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan, where he had been given refuge by the Taliban.

It was reported in July how terrified women dreading their future are fleeing the war-torn country as Islamic militants fight to gain full control – having already seized 85 per cent of Afghanistan.

Bush told Fox News in May: "I’ve always warned that no U.S. presence in Afghanistan will create a vacuum, and into that vacuum is likely to come people who treat women as second class citizens.

"I'm also deeply concerned about the sacrifices of our soldiers, and our intelligence community, will be forgotten."

20 years in Afghanistan – what happened?

US forces have begun a full withdrawal from Afghanistan under the orders of US President Joe Biden after spending 20 years fighting to stablise the war-torn nation.

Some 456 British soldiers and 2,420 Americans – along with hundreds of other coalition troops – died during the war which was sparked by the September 11 attacks.

And the civilian casualties are estimated to have been almost 50,000.

Codenamed Operation Enduring Freedom, the US led an invasion off Afghanistan to oust the Taliban after al-Qaeda flew planes into the World Trade Centre and other US buildings in 2001.

The mission was to oust the Taliban, who were said to be harbouring terrorists and providing them a safe haven – including Osama bin Laden.

What followed was nearly 20 years of grinding conflict as the US, its allies, and the Afghan security forces staged a grinding campaign to attempt to rebuild the country and beat back the Taliban.

The Taliban had ruled most of Afghanistan following the Afghan Civil War in the 90s – sparked by the withdrawal of the Soviet Union.

Western nations had actually supported the Taliban in the 80s as the ran an insurgency against the Soviet backed regime of Mohammad Najibullah.

However, after seizing power in 1996 – the Taliban brutally ruled Afghanistan and offered a safe haven to terrorist killers like Osama.

As the US war rolled on into the 2010s, Bin Laden was killed in May, 2011, in a US special forces raid in Abbotabad, Pakistan.

And since then there has been a slow withdrawal, with British troops officially ending combat operations in October 2014.

February 2020 saw a peace deal signed between the US and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, which agreed to a withdrawal – whoever the Afghan government criticised it as being done behind "closed doors".

Taliban forces have since continued their operations and have been gaining ground – and the US continues to pull back its troops.

The war is seen as defeating the Taliban and improving the lives of the Afghan people who were once living under strict Islamic law and who now have free elections.

However, for some it is unfinished job which was mishandled – and that may 20 years on simply see a return to the dominance of the Taliban as they did pre-9/11.

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