- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 26, 2021

Republican lawmakers on Thursday intensified criticism of President Biden‘s withdrawal from Afghanistan after deadly terrorist attacks at the Kabul airport that killed at least 13 people, including U.S. service members.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw placed the blame squarely on Mr. Biden for the two separate explosions outside the airport.

“Mr. President, fix the mess you created,” the Texas Republican tweeted. “Stop running from it. We are still at war. You didn’t ‘end the war,’ you just gave the enemy new advantage.”

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, suggested that the blood of U.S. troops was on Mr. Biden‘s hands.

“Before President Biden ‘ended’ the US involvement in Afghanistan, the last Americans to die in battle were Army Sgts. 1st Class Javier Gutierrez and Antonio Rodriguez, on Feb. 8, 2020. Today, at least 4 more have been killed, and it, sadly, won’t be the last,” he tweeted.

Twitter was ablaze with Republican fury at Mr. Biden.

“President Biden‘s shameful handling of the withdrawal in Afghanistan has now led to U.S. personnel being wounded in a terrorist attack in Kabul,” wrote Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Navy veteran representing a Texas district.

Biden must immediately hold the Taliban accountable,” tweeted Rep. Mark Green, an Army combat veteran from Tennessee. “The 8/31 deadline must be extended indefinitely, the enemy who perpetrated this attack must be crushed & we must make clear: Any impediment to our ops will be met with the full force of the U.S. We will leave no man behind.”

Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been critical of the president’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and his handling of the pullout, which precipitated the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country.

The violence and mayhem outside Hamid Karzai International Airport raised the tenor of the criticism, immediately at least among Republicans. The attacks at the airport also further complicate the U.S. effort to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies ahead of Mr. Biden‘s Tuesday deadline to complete a military exit.

Republicans have begun calling on the administration to expand operations beyond the airport in Kabul, the last remaining U.S. stronghold, to regain control.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, called on the administration to retake the former U.S. airbase in Bagram approximately 40 miles north of Kabul. The U.S. pulled out of Bagram in July, leaving the base in the hands of the since-defeated Afghan security force.

“I urge the Biden Administration to reestablish our presence in Bagram as an alternative to the Kabul airport so that we do not leave our fellow citizens and thousands of Afghan allies behind,” Mr. Graham said. “It is not a capability problem, but a problem of will.”

Rep. Jake Ellzey, Texas Republican, and former Navy pilot has been specifically critical of the administration’s decision to turn over the more capable Bagram airfield to the ANSF. He said the decision left the administration with few options but to coordinate the massive evacuation from the civilian airport in Kabul that has only a single runway.

Mr. Biden, earlier this week, confirmed that the U.S. would adhere to the end-of-month deadline for a full U.S. withdrawal a day after CIA Director William Burns met with Taliban officials. Mr. Biden cited a growing terrorist threat emanating from the Islamic State of Khorasan, or ISIS-K, who he said would aim to target U.S. troops.

The terrorist group, which is believed to be at odds with and uncontrolled by the Taliban, has been blamed for the two attacks at the airport.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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