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First on CNN: House Foreign Affairs chair to highlight plight of Afghan women by bringing former ambassador to SOTU

<i>Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images</i><br/>Roya Rahmani
The Washington Post via Getty Im
Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Roya Rahmani

By Alayna Treene, CNN

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mike McCaul has invited former Afghanistan Ambassador to the US Roya Rahmani to be his guest for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next week, CNN has learned exclusively.

Rahmani, a fierce defender of women’s rights in Afghanistan, was the country’s first female ambassador to the US, serving from December 2018 until July 2021.

McCaul’s decision to bring Rahmani is a direct play to his committee’s most high-profile investigation — examining the Biden administration’s controversial withdrawal from Afghanistan.

One of the most consequential results of the US exit and the Taliban’s eventual takeover of the country in August 2021 has been Afghan women and girls losing many of the rights they had gained over past decades.

Some of the new laws include barring Afghan women and girls from continuing their education beyond the sixth grade, being prohibited from playing sports and requiring women to have a male guardian to travel long distances.

McCaul has vowed that their diminished rights will be a fixture of his investigation.

“Since the United States unilaterally withdrew from Afghanistan last year, paving the way for the Taliban to take over, the situation for women in the country has become dire. Women there — many of whom only ever knew the freedoms of the last 20 years — no longer have rights,” McCaul told CNN.

The Texas Republican has already launched the highly anticipated investigation into the US withdrawal, requesting a series of documents and interviews from top State Department officials in relation to the US’ military exit — and threatening subpoenas if the agency refuses to comply.

The committee’s first hearing on the issue is expected to be held at some point in March, a source familiar with the panel’s plans told CNN.

Republicans’ newly acquired subpoena power, which they hold for the first time since the Taliban took control, provides the GOP with new investigative tools to probe a key pain point in Biden’s presidency ahead of 2024.

The committee’s investigation is expected to highlight the failures in planning leading up to the withdrawal — including claims that the Biden administration “misled the American public about the likely consequences of its decision to withdraw unilaterally” — as well as the after-effects of the exit.

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