Squad Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) was sharply criticized for claiming on Sunday that the US had supported the Taliban against occupying Soviet military forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s, an impossibility as the Taliban only came into existence a decade later.
“That’s what this is: the horrible consequences of endless war and failed US policy going back to the 1980s when we backed the Taliban against the Soviets. Innocent people suffer the horrors of war while political leaders and arms-dealing corporations sit back and make billions,” Tlaib tweeted.
In response, many people pointed out on Twitter that the Taliban was founded in September 1994 in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Human rights lawyer and NGO Monitor legal advisor Ann Herzberg replied: “Not surprised that someone so ignorant about the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict is equally clueless about Afghanistan.”
Tlaib may have been confusing the Taliban with the 1980s Afghan mujahideen, a catch-all term for various disparate Islamist rebel groups united by their fight against the Soviet military, some of whom were supported and funded by the United States. One of their leaders was future infamous Al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden.
After the Soviet Union left Afghanistan in 1989, the various mujahideen groups dispersed as the civil war in the country continued on, with the Taliban emerging several years later.
Other voices accused Tlaib of creating fiction, including New York Times journalist Matthew Rosenberg.
“The Taliban did not exist in the 1980s, it did not fight the Soviet Union and it was not backed by the United States. You could fill a library with books about American screw ups in Afghanistan. No need to rely on fictions,” Rosenberg tweeted.
Middle East analyst Seth Frantzman questioned whether Tlaib had taken the time to learn the “complex history” of Afghanistan.
“It wasn’t the Taliban in the 1980s…if learning the complex history is too much time for members of Congress, they even have movies about this, like Charlie Wilson’s War and Rambo III,” he tweeted.
Journalist, and author of a new book on Afghanistan, Wesley Morgan did not mince words, calling what Tlaib had written a “repeating [of an] ignorant myth.”
And terrorism analyst Michael S. Smith II castigated Tlaib for her tweet’s tone-deaf lack of sympathy for what will now happen to the women of Afghanistan under a Taliban regime.
“Setting aside the fact that the history is all wrong (See when the Taliban was formed): This probably won’t age well when it becomes very clear how Joe Biden’s decision has affected the lives of millions of women in particular,” he said.
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