Hillary Clinton slams Biden's withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and warns of 'consequences after Taliban warning

HILLARY CLINTON has criticized Joe Biden's decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan as a "wicked problem" that could have "huge consequences" amid Taliban threats.

Clinton made the remarks in an interview with CNN that aired on Sunday, one day after US forces began formally withdrawing from the region under the president's directions.

It came as Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the decision, claiming the White House is prepared for a "worst-case scenario."

Clinton voiced her opposition to the move publicly for the first time, warning that Biden would face "huge consequences" should he go through with his complete withdrawal.

When asked what she made of the decision, Clinton responded: "Well, it's been made. And I know it is a very difficult decision. 

"This is what we call a wicked problem. You know there are consequences both foreseen and unintended of staying and of leaving. The president has made the decision to leave."

Clinton added that the US needs to be prepared for "two huge consequences": the collapse of the Afghan government as the result of a Taliban takeover, and a subsequent outpouring of refugees. 

"It's one thing to pull out troops that have been supporting security in Afghanistan, supporting the Afghan military, leaving it pretty much to fend for itself, but we can't afford to walk away from the consequences of that decision," she said.

Later on Sunday, 60 Minutes' Norah O'Donnell quizzed Blinken as to whether the Biden administration was prepared for a "worst-case scenario" in Afghanistan, "where the US-backed government fails, and the Taliban takes over?"

Blinken responded that the White House has to "be prepared for every scenario – and there's a range of them."

"We are looking at this in a very clear-eyed way," he said.

"But Norah, we've been engaged in Afghanistan for 20 years, and we sometimes forget why we went there in the first place, and that was to deal with the people who attacked us on 9/11."

Appearing to affirm that he believed the US' job in the region was done, Blinken added: "And we did. Just because our troops are coming home doesn't mean we're leaving. We're not."

Further elaborating on his point, Blinken pointed out that the US embassy would be remaining in Kabul and said that "economic support, development, humanitarian" aid will also remain.

"And not only from us, from partners and allies," he added.

Biden has been widely criticized for his decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan.

The president has vowed to complete the withdrawal by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham accused Biden of "paving the way" for another terror attack similar to 9/11, saying terrorists across the globe were "on steroids" after Biden made the announcement two weeks ago.

Graham said Biden is "setting Afghanistan on a path to deteriorate rather quickly and for the enemy, radical Islam, to reconstitute.

"It can all be avoided with a minimal commitment compared to the past."

He added that "Every terrorist camp in the world is on steroids today because in their world they beat us. In their world, they drove us out."

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has also reportedly informed members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee she's worried about President Biden's plan to withdraw from the region.

Rice, who served under former President George Bush during 9/11, even suggested the US will likely have to go back.

"We had Secretaries Clinton and Condi Rice Zoom today with the committee," one participant of the call told Axios.

"A little disagreement on Afghanistan, but they both agreed we're going to need to sustain a counterterrorism mission somehow outside of that country."

"Condi Rice is like, 'You know, we’re probably gonna have to go back,'" amid a potential surge in terrorism, the member said.

Both Rice and Clinton supported military intervention in the Middle East following the attacks on September 11, 2001.

Clinton's fears played out in real-time on Sunday as the Afghan defense ministry clashed with Taliban forces, leaving more than 100 insurgents dead just 24 hours after the US withdrawal began.

The conflict came shortly after US forces yielded control of Camp Antonik in South Helmand to Afghan forces with a ceremonial changing of flags.

Taliban forces also threatened to attack the US after Biden pushed back the deadline for complete withdrawal from May 1 – a deadline set by Trump – back to September 11.

Though some withdrawal has begun around 2,500 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan and a further 7000 from other NATO countries.

As the original deadline passed, the Taliban posted a message on Twitter to say the withdrawal agreement had been breached.

"This violation in principle has opened the way for IEA Mujahidin to take every counteraction it deems appropriate against the occupying forces," read the statement.

"The Mujahidin of IEA will now await what decision the leadership of Islamic Emirate takes in light of the sovereignty, values and higher interests of the country, and will then take action accordingly, Allah willing."

The US is estimated to have spent more than $2 trillion in Afghanistan in the past two decades, according to the Costs of War project at Brown University.

Announcing his plans to withdraw on April 14, Biden pledged to end America's longest-running war after stating that it no longer aligned with the nation's priorities.

 "I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan," Biden said during a press conference.

"Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth. It is time to end America’s longest war. It is time for American troops to come home."

Biden went on to say that the troops would be removed "responsibly, deliberately, and safely."

He said that it was becoming increasingly unclear why the US is still in Afghanistan.

"War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking. We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives," he concluded, before leaving the podium.

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