Afghan peace negotiator Fawzia Koofi said delaying US withdrawal in Afghanistan might have made all the difference.
Koofi, Afghanistan's first female deputy speaker of parliament, said the Biden administration should have waited for a political settlement first.
It's not "sustainable or logical" for the US to stay in Afghanistan, "but this is so untimely for the US to have chosen now," she said.
The chaos in Afghanistan could have been avoided if the US delayed its exit for just a month, Fawzia Koofi, a leading Afghan peace negotiator, told The Guardian in an interview Thursday.
Koofi, the country's first female deputy speaker of parliament, told the British newspaper that leaving before a final settlement was reached undermined ongoing negotiations.
"President Biden could have delayed this to wait for a political settlement - for even just another month, just get the political settlement first. They could have come to a deal," she told The Guardian.
"Afghanistan is the victim of back-to-back mistakes," Koofi added.
The US signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February 2020 under the Trump administration, pledging to withdraw its troops within 14 months. The deal included a clause for the Taliban to start negotiations with the US-backed Afghan government for a permanent ceasefire and a political roadmap for the country.
In September last year, the Taliban and Afghan government launched historic peace talks in Qatar, reported the BBC - they were the first-ever between the militant group and the US-backed Afghan government. The Taliban had previously rejected negotiations, calling the government American "puppets," reported the Voice of America.
But the two sides failed to reach an agreement. Then in April, US President Joe Biden announced that US troops would leave Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
There are around 5,000 US troops currently stationed in Afghanistan, the bulk of whom have been tasked with managing evacuations at Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul.
"We all want international forces to leave," Koofi told The Guardian. "It's not sustainable or logical from any point of view to have a foreign force protecting your country, but this is so untimely for the US to have chosen now, in the middle of negotiations and before we get a settlement," she added.
Koofi is the survivor of two assassination attempts - once in 2010 when she was targeted by the Taliban and in August last year when she was shot by unknown gunmen, reported NPR. Despite attempts on her life, she told the Guardian she would remain in Afghanistan.
"This is my country, and I have lived with the ups and downs of Afghanistan all my life. I think it's not a matter of choice. I would never substitute the weather, the warmth of my people for any other country in the world. I have given my blood to it," she said.
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