“I don’t need to tell you that the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I think, is that things are not going well in terms of fighting the Taliban. And there is a need, whether it is true or not, to project a different image.
These are the words that the president of the United States told him, Joe Biden, to his then Afghan counterpart, Ashraf Ghani, in his last call before the return of the Islamists to power. The conversation was held on July 23, less than a month after Ghani’s visit to the White House on June 20.
The content of this call, in which the US president asked Ghani to change the narrative and say that the fight against the Taliban was going well, “whether it is true or not,” has drawn criticism of Biden from around the world. former president Donald Trump, which sees sufficient reason to open a process of impeachment, or “impeachment”, to his successor.
Trump was subjected to “impeachment” twice, the first of them for asking in 2019 the president of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelensky, to investigate Biden himself for his son’s business in that country. “I need a favor,” Trump told Zelensky. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives recused Trump, but the Senate exonerated him and kept him in office.
Afghanistan’s impending collapse
The call between Biden and Ghani, which was revealed exclusively by Reuters, reflects that neither of the two leaders was aware of the imminent collapse of the Afghan armed forces and the government they were supposed to protect. On August 15, Ghani fled as soon as the Taliban entered Kabul.
The Taliban moved decisively after Biden’s announcement that the withdrawal of US troops would culminate the August, 31. Before the departure, which actually ended a day earlier, the US and its foreign partners evacuated more than 120,000 civilians from Afghanistan. An Islamic State attack on the evacuation killed 180 Afghan civilians and 13 US soldiers on August 26.
At one point in that conversation, when the Taliban had already decisively gained ground in several provinces, Biden told Ghani: “We will continue to provide air support, very closely, if we know what your plan is.” In a speech last Tuesday, in which he ended the war in Afghanistan, Biden said that his plan was always a complete withdrawal, without further involvement by the US armed forces, which contradicts that offer made to Ghani by phone.
Trump’s associates have taken to social media – the former president has been expelled from it – to demand impeachment of Biden for lying. “Have him impeachment,” said Trump’s latest press secretary at the White House, Kayleigh McEnany.
Asked about the conversation, the latter’s successor in office, Jen Psaki, said Wednesday that it would not comment on “a private conversation.”