ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona leaders react to Biden’s address to nation on Afghanistan

Aug 16, 2021, 4:21 PM | Updated: Aug 17, 2021, 8:05 am
President Joe Biden waves as he arrives at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, Monday, Aug. 16, 20...

President Joe Biden waves as he arrives at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. Biden will address the nation on Monday about the U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan, after the planned withdrawal of American forces turned deadly at Kabul's airport as thousands tried to flee the country after the Taliban's takeover. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

PHOENIX — Arizona leaders reacted Monday to President Joe Biden’s address to the nation on his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

Reactions varied, with some advocating for the extrication of Afghan allies of U.S. forces and U.S. citizens threatened by the Taliban, while others were left unsatisfied.

Arizona Representative Ruben Gallego was among those in favor of laser-focusing on evacuating Afghan refugees.

Gallego, a Democrat and combat veteran of the Iraq war, said he’s “heartbroken” over the events unfolding in Kabul in a statement Monday.

“The resurgence of the Taliban is a tragedy for the Afghan people and is incredibly difficult to watch for the many American servicemembers who served and who lost friends during the mission in Afghanistan,” Rep. Ruben Gallego said in a statement. “It also sadly underlines the reality that after 20 years, four U.S. presidents and the expenditure of significant resources, the conditions for a peaceful and stable Afghan state could not be created.

“Not only do we have a moral imperative to help those who helped us in Afghanistan, but America must show the world and future allies and partners that we stick by our friends and keep our promises no matter how dire the circumstances.”

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, said it’s up to the Biden Administration to evacuate Afghan allies of the U.S.

She added the administration must also “ensure America and our national security interests are kept safe and secure from any threats that emerge from this evolving situation.”

“American’s troops -including many Arizonans- fought bravely for 20 years to eliminate the terrorists who attacked our nation, including finding and killing Osama Bin Laden,” she said. “Our service members and their loved ones sacrificed in this war and have earned our deepest respect and gratitude.”

Mark Kelly, the state’s other Democratic senator, said the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan “reveals a failure to prepare for a scenario where the Afghan government and military would refuse to fight the Taliban’s advances when put to the test.

“I am grateful for the American servicemembers who, on hours’ notice, rapidly deployed to Kabul over the past few days to secure the airport and facilitate evacuations, just as I am grateful for the hundreds of thousands of servicemembers and civilians, and their families, who over the past 20 years have sacrificed so much in this war,” Kelly, a combat veteran, said in a statement.

“Our priority now must be to keep the Kabul airport secure and get our people and our allies out safely.”

Prior to Biden’s address to the nation, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted his disapproval of the withdrawal of troops, saying “the events unfolding in Afghanistan represent complete negligence and an abdication of responsibility by President Biden.”

“I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. Forces,” Biden said in a televised address on Monday.

The national address comes just days after President Biden authorized an additional 1,000 U.S. troops for deployment to Afghanistan after months of downplaying the prospect of an ascendant Taliban.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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