Afghans hoping to leave wait outside Kabul airport (Image: AAP/EPA/Marcus Yam)

The catastrophic collapse of the Afghan republic and the subsequent takeover of the country by a cabal of terrorists, drug runners and misogynists were direct consequences of decisions made by successive US presidents to deal directly with the Taliban and follow through on one-sided promises to withdraw military forces that were essential to the state’s survival.

That is the devastating conclusion of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the US government’s main Afghanistan oversight body, in a report to two congressional committees.

Former president Donald Trump’s bilateral deal with the Taliban, and President Joe Biden’s decision to stick to it, caused the disintegration of Afghanistan’s security forces. Their collapse pushed senior members of the Afghan government, including President Ashraf Ghani and his national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, to flee the country as the Taliban entered Kabul on August 15, 2021, to complete its rout and claim victory.