Compassion or cowardice; Why Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan
NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
This article is part of a Fox News Digital series examining the aftermath of the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan one year ago this week.
A year after a Taliban offensive across Afghanistan descended on Kabul and toppled the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, questions remain about the actions of the failed republic’s last internationally recognized president, Ashraf Ghani.
“No power in the world could persuade me to get on a plane and leave this country. It’s a country I love and will die defending,” Ghani told Germany’s Der Spiegel in May 2021.
However, Ghani broke that promise just months later, gathering his family and flying out of Afghanistan as Taliban forces invaded Kabul. The former president faced immediate criticism for what some called cowardly actions, as reports began to circulate that Ghani had absconded with millions of dollars from Afghanistan’s treasury.
Rumors spread in the days after Ghani fled his country that he had landed in neighboring Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, but it was later revealed that he had gone to the United Arab Emirates and was staying in a house in an undisclosed location.
AFGHANISTAN’S FORMER PRESIDENT GIVES REASONS FOR FLEEING, SAYS HE WANTS TO COME BACK AND ‘HELP MY COUNTRY TO HEAL’
The United Arab Emirates welcomed the former president of Afghanistan and his family on humanitarian grounds, with Ghani quick to defend his actions.
“Dear countrymen! Today I was faced with a difficult choice; should I face the armed Taliban who wanted to enter the palace or leave the beloved country that I have dedicated my life to protecting and protecting for the past twenty years” , Ghani said in a Facebook post hours after leaving the country. “The Taliban have done this to get me out, they are here to attack all of Kabul and the people of Kabul. To avoid the bloody flood, I thought it was better to get out.”
Less than a month later, the former president explained again that he left Afghanistan to avoid heavy fighting in the country’s capital during an apology to the Afghan people.
“Leaving Kabul was the hardest decision of my life, but I believed it was the only way to keep the guns silent and save Kabul and its 6 million citizens,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter.
WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN, 1 YEAR LATER: KABUL TALIBAN OPAGA THAT PRESIDENT BIDEN NEVER SAW COMING
A US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report later found that there was a lack of evidence to support the claim that Ghani fled Afghanistan with million dollars, but said he likely had about $500,000 on hand.
“Although SIGAR found that some cash was taken from the palace grounds and loaded onto these helicopters, evidence indicates that this figure did not exceed $1 million and may have been closer to $500,000” , Special Inspector General John Sopko wrote in a letter to House and Senate leadership. “Most of this money was believed to come from various operational budgets of the Afghan government that are normally managed in the palace.”
In the months following his departure from Afghanistan and his statements on social media, Ghani kept a low profile. That changed earlier this month, with Ghani giving a rare interview to CNN in which he again defended his final days as president.
“I got on a plane because it became impossible to defend it,” Ghani said during the interview, noting that his defense minister told him the country could no longer defend itself and that the ministry had already been evacuated
THE WHITE HOUSE PREPARES REPORT ADVOCATING THE WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN
“I was the last to leave, and the reason I left was because I didn’t want to give the Taliban and their supporters the pleasure of humiliating an Afghan president again,” he said.
Ghani used the interview to criticize the “incredibly flawed” deal with the Taliban negotiated under former President Trump and carried out by President Biden, but made it clear that he does not blame the US for the collapse of the government he oversaw .
“We have to focus on what is in front of us now,” Ghani said. “Our country is in dire straits. I don’t have the luxury of blaming or [a] sense of betrayal.”
He also rejected comparisons between himself and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, arguing that the situation he faced was very different from that of Ukraine’s leader, who chose to stay in his country when Russian forces they were approaching Kyiv.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
“President Zelensky was briefed in detail by the CIA about the upcoming Russian invasion,” Ghani argued. “Our allies did not offer us a single paper.”
However, Ghani also expressed hope that he could one day return to Afghanistan, noting that his family has been in the same village for 500-600 years.
“I look forward to it. I look forward to it. It’s my home,” Ghani said of a potential return to Afghanistan. “I want to be able to help heal my county … and I hope I can do it from the place where every cell in my body belongs and without which I always feel alienated.”
The former president did not back down in the face of criticism of his final act as Afghanistan’s leader, stressing that he always did what he believed was the best interest of the people of his country.
“I have lived an honorable life,” he said.