Fatima Gailani has served as the president of the Afghan Red Crescent Society since 2004. As the daughter of a former leader of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, politics runs in her family, and Gailani was just one of four women involved in discussions with the Taliban over the past year.
Gailani found renewed prominence following the U.S.-led intervention in 2001 that resulted in the fall of the Taliban. Now, she has watched the Taliban resume power – a move that seems to render her recent efforts entirely moot.
“I’m still totally shocked because we were so close,” Gailani told German outlet DW in an interview published Friday. “We were really so close to having an orderly transfer of power, and then Mr. Ghani ruined everything to rescue his money.”
“His sudden departure caused what you see today.”
Gailani’s accusation follows reports that Ghani embezzled $169 million in cash, which carried in duffle bags with him from the presidential palace in Kabul as he fled during the Taliban advance on Kabul on Aug. 15.
She does not blame Ghani alone, though: Gailani has also pointed to Biden’s action as “very, very reckless.”
“As much as we blame Ashraf Ghani, and I openly call him a national traitor, I would also tell Biden that this is not the way that a superpower should behave like,” Gailani said.
Biden has stressed throughout the weeks following the fall of Kabul that he was left with only two options: Follow through with the withdrawal or enact a new surge of troops to deal with arguably the strongest Taliban force since before the attack on 9/11.
In his immediate comments following the Taliban advance into Kabul, Biden claimed in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that there was no way to leave Afghanistan “without chaos ensuing” – a comment that many have criticized.
However, Gailani does not seem to agree: She pointed to the months of negotiations and the final peace agreement, which she believes has not been upheld.
“And I want you to please publish this,” She added. “I didn’t want any foreign soldiers to stay in Afghanistan. What I wanted was: peace first. So first secure peace, and then go wherever you want to go. When we talked about foreign forces leaving orderly, we didn’t mean that we wanted NATO’s soldiers to stay for the rest of their lives. No!”
“You made a contract with the Taliban in Doha, and a political settlement was part of it. But where is this political settlement? Where is it?”