President Joe Biden's bungled military withdrawal from Afghanistan, which brought the Taliban to power and turned the country into a safe haven for terrorists, is a "slap in the face" to every U.S. combat veteran, former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Washington Free Beacon on Thursday.
"Biden's disastrous withdrawal left the world less safe," Haley said following a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan that killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. "It's a slap in the face to my husband and every combat veteran who served."
As the Biden administration continues to make overtures to Afghanistan's Taliban-led government, Haley said that "America can never acknowledge the Taliban, fund the Taliban, or take our eyes off the region." While the Taliban promised in talks with the United States that it would not harbor al Qaeda operatives, Haley said the strike on al-Zawahiri highlights that the jihadi government cannot be trusted.
Taliban leadership said earlier this week that "our Islamic Emirate strongly condemns" the U.S. drone strike, according to Voice of America. Al-Zawahiri's presence in Afghanistan at the time of the strike has renewed concerns among top former U.S. officials like Haley about the country's relationship with jihadi groups actively planning attacks on America and its allies.
"Afghanistan is once again a safe haven where terrorists operate freely," Haley said, echoing concerns from many GOP leaders about the security vacuum left in the region since the U.S. military fled the war-torn country. Al Qaeda's resurgence in Afghanistan is also increasing pressure on the Biden administration to cut off humanitarian aid dollars that have been making their way to the Taliban since the U.S. withdrawal.
"I think Zawahiri's presence in a Taliban safehouse has to be the nail in the coffin of any plan to release funds directly to the Taliban," Nathan Sales, former ambassador at large and coordinator for counterterrorism, told Politico on Tuesday. "They simply can't be trusted and the risk is substantial that money released to them would find their way inevitably and directly into al Qaeda's pockets."