Afghan Journalist Hiding in Fear Says U.S. 'Betrayed' Country as Taliban Takes Control

An Afghan journalist hiding in fear with his family in Kabul said his nation feels "betrayed" by the U.S. after the Taliban overtook the central government and military on Sunday.

In an article written for Politico, the journalist, who asked not to be identified to protect his safety, said the country's capital is riddled with "panic and fear" on Sunday after the militant group seized control.

"It's the worst night of my life for me and thousands of others," the journalist wrote. "We could never have imagined and believed that this would happen. We could never imagine we could be betrayed so badly by the U.S."

"People here are shocked [by the U.S. pulling out of Afghanistan]. They never could imagine they would do this. If they abandon us, probably thousands of people would be killed. And you know no longer would the U.S. have the moral authority to go places to say, 'We believe in human rights. We fight for human rights and democracy,'" he added.

The journalist was referring to the gradual withdrawal of all Americans troops from the Afghanistan, a decision that was first made in 2020 under former President Donald Trump and later supported by President Joe Biden. In July, Biden said all U.S. troops would be pulled from the country by August 31, extending Trump's previous target date of May 1.

But as American troops held less of a presence in Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly advanced its control across the country. In the past week, Taliban insurgents seized power over much of the nation, facing little resistance from the Afghan military. On Sunday, the militant group effectively overtook Kabul, the nation's last government stronghold, after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

The stunning development occurred just weeks after Biden said he "trusted" the strength of the Afghan military to fend off the Taliban amid the withdrawal of American troops.

Taliban fighters sit atop Afghan army vehicle
An Afghan journalist said the U.S. "betrayed" the country after the Taliban effectively seized control of the central government and military on Sunday. Here, Taliban fighters sit on an Afghan National Army vehicle in Laghman province on August 15. AFP via Getty Images/Getty Images

Kabul on Sunday was gripped by chaos as civilians rushed to leave the country, fearing the Taliban's extremist rule. The U.S. embassy warned Americans against heading to the airport after reports the facility was taking fire, and said that the situation was "changing quickly."

Many Afghans now fear a return to the Taliban's extremist ideology, particularly due to their harsh treatment of women. The last time the Taliban ruled the country, from 1996 to 2001, it barred women and girls from working or receiving an education, and required women to be escorted by a male relative when leaving the home. In recent days, there have also been reports of revenge killings and other brutal tactics in areas of the country the Taliban have seized, according to the Associated Press.

On Sunday, the Afghan journalist said there was a "lot of hope" for change across the country when the U.S. first invaded the nation after the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks. But now, he said, the hope for progress appears to be lost.

"There was a lot of promise, a lot of assurance. A lot of talk about values, a lot of talk about progress, about rights, about women's rights, about freedom, about democracy. That all turned out to be hollow," he wrote.

"I don't care if it's the Trump administration or the Biden administration. I believed in the U.S. But that turned out to be such a big mistake in my opinion," he added. "I want the American lawmakers to know it's not good to ditch your allies. This was the most irresponsible act, ever. It's just like taking us and putting us before wolves."

The journalist said the U.S. must now be "robust" in their actions against condemning the Taliban, and called for sending more American troops to the country.

On Saturday, Biden defended the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, stating that an American presence "would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country."

"I was the fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan —two Republicans, two Democrats," he added. "I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth."

Newsweek contacted the White House for additional comment but did not hear back in time for publication.