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Rep. Peter Meijer. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

The next 20 years in Afghanistan will be dictated by what happens during the next 20 days, Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) tells Axios.

Why it matters: The Iraq war veteran visited Kabul exactly a week before the United States' impending withdrawal. "The best-case scenario is the country becomes like Iraq today; the worst-case scenario is it becomes like Syria today. I don't think we know right now what path it's going to take."

  • "The worst thing we could do is to, after this withdrawal, forget about this region and not fulfill our obligation," Meijer said during an interview Friday night.
  • The U.S. also must remain engaged diplomatically both for developmental and security reasons.
  • The worst-case scenario, the freshman Republican said, would be allowing the Taliban to be riven by infighting and lose control of the country — triggering a civil war.

Between the lines: Meijer blames the State and Defense departments for much of the chaotic withdrawal.

  • "We've all seen those timeline estimates — back in July — that the Afghan government will last six to nine months after withdrawal," he said. "In early August, it became 30 to 90 days after Aug. 31. We didn't even make it to Aug. 15."
  • "It is shameful that our men and women who are on the ground have been put in this position. And it's shameful that the administration waited so long to start these ... evacuations."

Meijer also blamed Congress for not being as involved as it should have been. He said he believes the House and Senate must reclaim war powers.

  • "So much of this — and this goes across administrations — comes down to how Congress has stepped back from its role and basically left this solely in the hands of the president," he said.
  • "It’s not enough for Congress to just be sitting in the cheap seats, casting critical words here and there."

In addition, Meijer said he finds the level of information Congress is receiving on Afghanistan "insulting."

  • "In its simplicity, it's often lagged behind what anyone with a Twitter account and an interest will learn."
  • "I felt that being dependent on senior leaders at DoD, State and in the White House to be presenting what was going on left me unprepared to execute and offer the decision-making that is expected of someone in my role."
  • He said the need for more oversight is why he and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) decided to take their secret trip to Afghanistan last Tuesday.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated Aug 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden hasn't ruled out sending more troops to Kabul, national security adviser says

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that President Biden hasn't ruled sending more troops to the airport in Kabul, but "at the moment, we believe we have sufficient forces on the ground.”

The big picture: The president's senior national security team made the rounds on the Sunday political talk shows to explain — and defend — the Biden administration's handling of the ongoing turbulence in Afghanistan.

Aug 15, 2021 - World

Blinken: "This is manifestly not Saigon" all over again in Afghanistan

As video emerged on Sunday of military helicopters landing near the U.S. embassy in Kabul to rapidly evacuate U.S. personnel, Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured: "This is manifestly not Saigon."

Driving the news: Blinken made the rounds on the Sunday shows to defend President Biden's resolute withdrawal of the U.S. military as Kabul nears complete surrender to the Taliban.

Taliban won't work with U.S. to rein in extremist groups

Afghan Taliban members inspect the site of an explosion at a mosque in Kunduz on Oct. 8. Photo: Ajmal Kakar/Xinhua via Getty Images

The Taliban said on Saturday it will not work with the U.S. to contain extremist groups in Afghanistan, AP reports.

Why it matters: The remarks come as a U.S. delegation meets on Saturday and Sunday with senior Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar.