WASHINGTON, Sept 13 (Reuters) – Hours after the last U.S. troops and diplomats were out of Afghanistan, President Joe Biden said in an address at the White House that Washington will continue to support the Afghans left behind and would defend their basic rights, especially those of women and girls.
“I’ve been clear that human rights will be the center of our foreign policy,” he said, repeating a campaign promise he has made often in speeches since taking office on Jan. 20.
The comment fed growing skepticism among critics, who argued the United States had abandoned those very people to the Taliban – a brutal group with a record of crushing women’s rights in the name of their radical interpretation of Islam.
A review of the Biden administration’s record so far shows concerns over human rights have several times been shunted aside in favor of national security priorities and to ensure continued engagement with foreign powers.
Advocates say Biden has pulled punches at crucial moments.
In the Middle East, support for authoritarians such as Egypt’s general-turned-President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has continued despite the rhetoric on democracy and human rights, advocates say.
In Saudi Arabia, the administration released internal intelligence linking crown price and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but steered clear of any action against the crown prince himself.
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