(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, released the following statement commemorating the one-year anniversary of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
“Today is an emotional day for many Americans as we mark the one-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan – including the hundreds of thousands of Americans who were deployed and bravely served for 20 years alongside Afghans fighting for a brighter future for their country. The challenges of what became the longest U.S. war in history played out over four presidential administrations. From the start of negotiations with the Taliban, I made clear my opposition to an unconditioned withdrawal from Afghanistan because of the reprisal facing vulnerable Afghans under Taliban rule. Though our military mission has concluded, the humanitarian mission must continue. From Afghan women and girls who are experiencing an unacceptable revocation of fundamental freedoms and rights to our Afghan allies who put their lives on the line to serve the U.S. mission and now face persecution from the Taliban – the U.S. and global community must not take our eyes away from the protection of Afghans in danger,” said Shaheen.
She continued: “I’m pleased the Biden administration has taken steps to streamline the Special Immigrant Visa program – which I’ve long championed – as well as extend Temporary Protected Status to Afghans living in America to ensure they aren’t deported to dangerous conditions. The U.S. must continue to work with the global community to pressure the Taliban on fundamental human rights and freedoms while we continue to advocate for vulnerable Afghans. I’ve also supported legislation to create a commission to investigate the political and strategic decisions that led to the longest U.S. war in history. With each day that passes, we must ensure lessons learned from this war are carried forth and that Afghanistan and its people remain a foreign policy priority.”
Shaheen has long championed the rights of Afghan women and girls and has led Senate efforts to bolster Congressional support for human rights around the world. Shaheen repeatedly fought to make the inclusion of Afghan women in negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan government a U.S. foreign policy priority. Shaheen is the author of the Women, Peace and Security Act, which was signed into law in 2017 and ensures women’s leadership roles in conflict resolution and peace negotiations. She has also led bipartisan efforts to address the unique barriers young girls in developing countries face in accessing a full education. Shaheen previously led a group of Senators in condemning the Taliban’s decision to renege on its promise to open schools to Afghan girls above the sixth grade, and led a bipartisan letter to President Biden urging his administration to take action. In April, she led a bipartisan delegation visit with Senator Ernst and Senator Susan Collins to the UN to discuss how the U.S. and international community can best support women and girls in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. Shaheen and Ernst sent a letter with Senators Bob Menendez and Jim Risch to the United Nations, urging it to take measures to hold the Taliban to account for its continued abuses of Afghan women and girls’ human rights. Earlier this month, Shaheen was part of a bipartisan group, including U.S. Senators Joni Ernst, Dianne Feinstein and Tammy Baldwin, who were briefed by representatives from the U.S. State Department and USAID on the status of Afghan women and girls nearly one year since the United States withdrew from Afghanistan.
Senator Shaheen historically partnered with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on efforts to protect Afghans who’ve risked their lives to support U.S. diplomatic efforts abroad by strengthening the Afghan SIV program. She has led bipartisan efforts in Congress to reauthorize additional Afghan SIVs. In addition, Senator Shaheen supported legislation to establish a nonpartisan, independent commission to examine every aspect of the war in Afghanistan, including the political and strategic decisions that transformed a focused military mission into a vast, nation-building campaign that became the longest war in U.S. history.