DECEMBER 9, 2022
USA Opinion Afghanistan Opinion

Biden taps official who left US allies stranded in Afghanistan for Iraq envoy gig: ‘Blood on their hands’

Biden taps official who left US allies stranded in Afghanistan for Iraq envoy gig: ‘Blood on their hands’

By Ryan King

President Biden has been slammed for trying to elevate a State Department official who failed to protect US allies in Afghanistan to a key Middle East ambassadorship.

Biden, 81, announced Jan. 25 he was nominating Tracey Ann Jacobson, 59, to be the next US ambassador to Iraq, with the Senate expected to consider her appointment later this month.

As the Taliban closed in on Kabul and US forces prepared to withdraw in August 2021, Jacobson — a former envoy to Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kosovo — was put in charge of what Biden called “a whole-of-government effort to process, transport, and relocate Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other Afghan allies” who had assisted Western forces during the 20-year-long conflict with the Islamic fundamentalists.

However, more than two years after the last American soldier left Afghanistan, thousands of those same allies are still stranded in the Taliban-ruled nation — under constant threat of exposure and execution.

Tracey Ann Jacobson

Tracey Ann Jacobson was given the arduous task of overseeing efforts to relocate and evacuate US allies.

Former Marine Chad Robichaux, who helped spearhead one of the largest civilian evacuation efforts from Afghanistan and founded the Mighty Oaks Foundation to support veterans, said Jacobson was among those who “still have blood on their hands” from the botched withdrawal.

“Jacobson failed to ensure 150,000 of our wartime allies got contractually promised SIVs (Special Immigrant Visas) [and] left [them] behind after 20 years of service to America, only to be persecuted and hunted down to be killed by the Taliban,” he said.

“The White House nominating Tracey Jacobson as the new ambassador to Iraq is a new line on a growing list of embarrassments for America, a slap in the face to our veterans and allies, and further jeopardizes our national security,” added Robichaux, credited with helping to rescue around 17,000 people ahead of the Taliban reconquest.

Afghanistan withdrawal

A Marine seen fist-bumping a child evacuee during a military drawdown at Hamid Karzai International Airport.US MARINE CORPS/AFP via Getty Im

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, who was relieved of his duties in August 2021 after calling out the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, wants Jacobson to admit the State Department failed.

“If she can’t admit under oath that the State Department failed in its response to the Afghanistan evacuation, then she doesn’t deserve to represent the American people,” Scheller said.

Since toppling the US-backed civilian government in Afghanistan, the Taliban is feared to have hunted down, tortured, and killed a number of American allies, according to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas)

Afghanistan withdrawal

Coalition forces help a child during the evacuation.via REUTERS

“Tracey Jacobson failed American veterans and our Afghan allies when she and the Biden administration abandoned hundreds of thousands of our Afghan allies,” McCaul said in a statement Thursday. “If she is allowed to become the next US Ambassador to Iraq, the Democratic US Senate will be telling the American people – and the world – that there is no such thing as accountability or justice in the Biden administration.”

Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.), who sits on both the House Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, also pilloried Jacobson’s nomination.”

Jacobson failed to ensure promised visas for thousands of allies, leaving them vulnerable to persecution by the Taliban,” he said. “With the regional instability and potential for Iraq to see increased Iranian military attacks, and further political discourse, I fear under her leadership, and this administration, we would see a similar outcome to Afghanistan. ”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also blasted Jacobson’s nomination.

“Tracey Jacobson played a central role in one of the most unforgivable of those failures, the abandonment of vetted Afghans who had risked their lives for our security, and it will undoubtedly mar and endanger her nomination,” he told The Free Press.

President Biden boards Air Force One

President Biden has stressed that the seeds for the Afghanistan withdrawal were planted by Donald Trump.AP

The chaotic pullout was further blighted by the deaths of 13 American soldiers in a suicide attack at Kabul’s international airport, as thousands of Afghans futilely tried to secure seats on flights out of the country.

“I am president of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me,” Biden said at the time. “I am deeply saddened by the facts we now face, but I do not regret my decision.”

This past February, a report released by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) blasted the withdrawal as “abrupt and uncoordinated,” leaving the impression the US “was simply handing Afghanistan over to a Taliban government-in-waiting,”

Afghanistan withdrawal

Marines provide assistance during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul back in August 2021.AP

A 2022 report by the House Foreign Affairs Committee found more than 1,000 Americans were also stranded in Afghanistan at the time of the pullout.

The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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