US President Joe Biden | Photo: SHAWN THEW / EFE
US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday (18) that US troops could stay in Kabul after August 31 to complete the evacuation of US citizens.
According to him, there are still between 10,000 and 15,000 Americans in Afghanistan who must be evacuated, in addition to 50,000 to 65,000 Afghans and their families whom the United States wants to evacuate from the country.
In an interview with “ABC News,” Biden left open the possibility of postponing the military withdrawal until after August, extending the deadline that had been set for the departure of all foreign forces.
“If there are still Americans out there, we’ll stay until we can get them all out,” the president commented in an interview with the station, who anticipated a snippet of the conversation before moving on. show the material in its entirety.
Biden has made it clear that the goal is to complete the evacuations by Aug.31, but if that is not possible, it will be determined “at this point” who will be evacuated and what troops need to do.
When discussing the possibility of extending the military presence, Biden only mentioned the need to evacuate American citizens and did not mention the Afghans who have worked with American troops for the past 20 years.
The Taliban took control of Kabul on Sunday after its fighters entered the capital without resistance, with nearly all provinces under control, and after then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled.
A day earlier, on August 14, the United States accelerated the evacuation of embassy staff, American citizens and Afghan collaborators, in light of the rapid advance of the Taliban.
So far, around 5,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan by the United States, but American officials are keen to step up that pace, Chief of Staff General Mark Milley said on Wednesday.
“There was no way out without causing chaos”
Biden also claimed that there was no way to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan without triggering “chaos” in the Asian country. In addition, he said the Taliban was not cooperating to allow the United States to withdraw its Afghan collaborators from the country.
The US president has admitted that his government is struggling to withdraw Afghans who have aided US troops, despite the Taliban’s promise to allow civilians to travel safely to the airport in the capital, Kabul.
“(The Taliban) are cooperating, allowing American citizens to leave (the country), American staff and embassy staff. But we have more difficulty with those (the Afghans) who helped us while we were there.” , did he declare.
On Wednesday, the US State Department accused the Taliban of “blocking roads to prevent Afghans wishing to leave the country from reaching the airport” in Kabul, as part of evacuation efforts organized by US troops.
This measure represents a violation of the agreement that the United States had made with the insurgent group, which pledged to allow civilians who wanted to leave safe paths to the airport.
During the interview, Biden conceded that the troop withdrawal could have been better handled.
The President was on the defensive when interviewer George Stephanopoulos reminded him of photos of “hundreds of people crammed into a C-17 (model airplane)” and “Afghans falling” from another US plane as it took off from Kabul.
“It happened four days, five days ago,” Biden falsely exclaimed, as the two cases mentioned by the reporter took place on Monday, two days before the interview.
When asked what he thought upon seeing the footage, Biden replied, “I thought we had to control this. We have to go faster. We have to move so that we have control of this airport. And we did it.”
As for the existence of intelligence or execution failures, Biden again blamed the Afghan government, noting that President Ashraf Ghani “got on a plane and left (the country)” and that there is had a “major collapse” of Afghan forces that the United States had been training for years.
“There are people who say, well, (in April) there were 2,500 soldiers there and nothing was happening, but the reason nothing was happening is that the previous president (Donald Trump) negotiated a year before (the troops) would leave until May 1 and there would be no attacks against American troops, ”he said.
Biden insisted that if his government had backed off the deal and postponed the withdrawal, it should have been “prepared to send many more troops” into the country and expose them to Taliban attacks, and he refused to take that risk.