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Under pressure, US President Joe Biden defended the “difficult” exits from Afghanistan, saying the “bottom line” could not be guaranteed as thousands of Americans and Afghans were trying to flee after the Taliban returned to Kane.
Flights departing from Kabul airport were grounded for several hours as U.S. bases in the Gulf, especially in Qatar, were initially picked up by evacuees, a Pentagon official admitted Friday.
Biden said in a speech from the White House that the evacuation was “one of the largest and most difficult in history” and that “the only country capable of organizing the United States” was the 13,000 who had been expelled from the country by the U.S. military since operations began on August 14.
“I can’t guarantee what the end result will be or the risk of loss,” he said. “But as Commander, I assure you that I will mobilize all the necessary resources.”
Criticized for managing to pull out of Afghanistan after 20 years of war, Biden assured that scenes of chaos at Kabul airport would not affect US “credibility” in the international arena.
The evacuees are mostly U.S. citizens admitted to the airport by the Taliban. But many Afghans, especially those who have collaborated with the United States and hold special immigration visas with their relatives, cannot access the campus, which is guarded by 5,000 U.S. soldiers.
“There is no one more important to evacuate than American citizens, I agree. But almost … those who actually helped us are equally important,” Biden said, adding that the United States was “in contact with the Taliban.” “To ensure that the public has secure access to the airport.”
These civilians fear retaliation from the Taliban, although they have promised a general amnesty for those who cooperate with foreign forces. Others, human rights defenders, journalists or political activists, see themselves as “vulnerable” and potential targets of Islamists.
The Biden management was questioned about the lack of preparation for the evacuation after the tumultuous weekend.
Biden first intervened on Monday, with a brief message to the nation, “firmly” defending his decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan before August 31, following the offensive that began after the September 11 attacks.
“I am the President of the United States, and in the end, the responsibility is mine,” he said.
Two days later, in an interview with ABC, he argued that the US withdrawal would occasionally lead to “confusion.”
Pictures of the public fearing to enter the airport or boarding planes have surprised US opinion until this week in support of the withdrawal.
No more threat to “national interest” –
Biden promised Friday that he would not confirm whether the army would stay in Kabul after August 31.
Former President Donald Trump has called for the “resignation” of his successor, saying “abandoning Americans is shameful and unforgivable.”
However, it was Trump who initially decided to withdraw from the US military, with an even tighter schedule.
Among the Democrats, some lamented the lack of vision and the fall of the Afghan regime in ten days.
Biden reiterated his decision, arguing that Afghanistan was no longer a threat to the “national interest” of the United States.
“We went to Afghanistan with the obvious intention of eliminating Al Qaeda and ending Osama bin Laden, and we did that,” he stressed.
The White House said after the president’s speech that about 5,700 people had been evacuated from Afghanistan by US forces in 24 hours.
About 18,000 U.S. planes have left the country since the end of July.
The United States plans to expel more than 30,000 Americans and Afghans through its bases in Kuwait and Qatar.
21 2021 AFP