US President Joe Biden said on Friday (20) that withdrawing troops from Afghanistan is one of the most difficult missions the US military has ever undertaken, making it difficult to predict what will happen next.
“We have made progress in recent days. We have managed to take control of the airport and evacuate more than 13,000 people. All Americans who want to return will be able to vote,” he said. “I cannot guarantee when the end of the operation will be, but I will mobilize all the necessary resources.”
Biden has confirmed that he doesn’t know exactly how many Americans need rescue in Afghanistan, or where many citizens are, but that his government is working hard to get that information. He also pledged to help evacuate allies from other countries and the Afghans who had aided the United States in their military operation.
He also said the United States had made a deal with the Taliban so that the Americans could cross the barriers they put in place to access the airport and reach the terminal. Despite this, there are reports of difficulties in this crossing.
This Friday, the take-off of planes from Kabul was suspended for several hours, due to a lack of available destinations to send those rescued, according to US CNN.
The Democrat also said he has spoken with leaders of Britain, France and Germany and that a G7 meeting will be held next week to work out a common approach on Afghanistan.
Biden spoke at the White House early Friday afternoon (20), alongside MP Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He answered a few questions from reporters and insisted that he continued to withdraw to save the lives of the US military and that it would make no difference to stay there any longer.
Although the exit from Afghanistan enjoys popular and bipartisan support in the United States, the manner in which it was carried out drew much criticism against Bide. The president is under attack for not planning the withdrawal in a way that avoids the scenes of desperation and confusion of the past few weeks and tries to explain why his administration could not avoid the current situation.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a group of U.S. Embassy officials in Kabul warned in July that the Taliban could take over the capital as soon as foreign forces leave.
In 2020, Donald Trump’s government struck a deal with the Taliban, who promised to act in a civilized manner in exchange for an American exit. The arrangement was maintained by Biden, but the group toppled the government of President Ashraf Ghani before the end of the US withdrawal.
In a speech on Monday (16), the president admitted his government made the wrong predictions, but blamed the Afghan army and politicians for the situation. “US troops must not fight and die in a war the Afghans do not want to wage,” he said.
On Wednesday (18), Biden gave an interview to ABC TV that said all Americans will be rescued from the country, even if that means extending the military presence in Afghanistan for a few more days or weeks.
The week was marked by scenes of desperation from people trying to leave Afghanistan. A crowd gathers in front of Kabul airport, where the US military is stationed and where flights go overseas in search of help. Confusion at the site has left at least 12 people dead.
On Monday, Afghans invaded the runway and tried to cling to planes about to take off. Some did, but then they fell from above and died. Images on Thursday (19) showed Afghans trying to deliver babies and children to the U.S. military, in hopes they could have a better future.
After taking power last weekend, the Taliban promised moderation but showed signs they would do otherwise. There has been a harsh crackdown on protests and the creation of barriers to access the airport, making it difficult for Afghans trying to flee to reach the terminal.
The Taliban regained command of Afghanistan almost 20 years after it was overthrown by the United States, which invaded the country in 2001 to track down the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks. At the time, the group was quickly overthrown, but the occupation of the country lasted for two decades. The United States tried to establish democratic rule in the country and create a strong national army, but failed on both counts.