Thursday, September 16

Biden does not rule out US troops staying longer in Afghanistan until evacuation is complete

The president of the United States, Joe Biden, has admitted this Wednesday that the troops of his country could remain in Afghanistan beyond the deadline that he had established for the withdrawal, on August 31, with the aim of completing the evacuation of all American citizens. It has not detailed, however, what will happen to the thousands of Afghans and their families who assisted the US troops and who are finding it difficult to reach the Kabul airport, around which the Taliban have established checkpoints.

In an interview with ABC News, Biden made it clear that his goal is to complete the evacuations of Americans and Afghans before August 31, but if that is not possible, it will be determined “at that time” who remains to be evacuated and what should make the troops.

“If there are Americans still there, we are going to stay until we can get them all out,” he promised. Until now, the Administration had insisted that all US troops would have left the country before the end of August, but today Biden admitted that the timelines may change due to difficulties in evacuating the Americans and their Afghan allies.

There are still between 10,000 and 15,000 Americans in Afghanistan, in addition to between 50,000 and 65,000 Afghans and their families whom Washington wants to remove from the country, Biden said. The Pentagon has also not made an explicit commitment to evacuate the interpreters, drivers and other Afghans who have assisted troops for more than 20 years.

In a press conference, the Chief of the Defense Staff, General Mark Milley, and the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, made it clear that their goal is to evacuate all Americans and as many Afghan collaborators “as possible.” without giving more details.

Five thousand evacuees

According to Milley, some 5,000 people have so far been evacuated from Afghanistan by the United States, although the US authorities want to accelerate that pace. Milley noted that there are currently an average of 20 US C-17 flights departing every 24 hours from Afghanistan with evacuees.

The US removed some 2,000 people from Afghanistan between Tuesday and Wednesday, mostly Afghan nationals, a number significantly lower than the Pentagon estimates, which intended to evacuate between 5,000 and 9,000 people daily through from Kabul airport.

Biden, in fact, explained that if between 5,000 and 7,000 people can be removed from the country each day there will be no need to extend the US military presence in Afghanistan.

Obstacles to remove Afghans

However, the president admitted during the interview with ABC News that his government is having a hard time getting the Afghans who helped the troops out of the country, despite the fact that the Taliban had promised to allow the safe passage of civilians to the airport.

The Taliban “are cooperating, allowing American citizens to leave (the country), American personnel and embassy personnel. But we are having more difficulties in the case of those (Afghans) who helped us when we were there” at war, he said. Biden.

This Wednesday, the US State Department denounced that the Taliban are “blocking the roads to prevent Afghans who want to leave from reaching the airport” in Kabul, amid evacuation efforts organized by US troops.

This is a violation of the agreement that the United States had reached with the insurgent group, by which it promised to allow the safe passage to the airport of civilians who wanted to leave.

Biden clings to his decision

Despite the difficulties, the president and Pentagon leaders again defended their decision to withdraw the troops on Wednesday, insisting that there was nothing that could predict the collapse of the Afghan Army and Government in just eleven days, as it finally did.

Biden also did not assume any responsibility for the way in which the withdrawal has been carried out, despite the fact that he has had to send 7,000 soldiers to the Central Asian country to protect the evacuation process, almost three times the 2,500 who were in the country in May, before the military withdrawal began. There are currently 4,500 US soldiers at Kabul airport alone.

“The idea that there could have been some way out without causing chaos, I don’t know how that could have happened,” Biden said in his ABC News interview, the content of which will be broadcast in its entirety tomorrow Thursday. The Taliban took control of Kabul on Sunday, August 15, after its fighters entered the capital without meeting resistance, with almost all the provinces under their control, and after the flight of the hitherto Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani.

It was a day earlier, on August 14, when Washington accelerated evacuation efforts.