US President Joe Biden delivered a speech on Tuesday (31) to mark the end of the war in Afghanistan, in which he called the withdrawal from the country a “historic success”, as more than 120,000 people were evacuated there in a few minutes. weeks.
The sortie, however, was marked by scenes of chaos, such as Afghans falling after catching a C-17 freighter taking off on the move, and residents who failed to escape while handing babies over to children. soldiers, and a terrorist attack that killed around 200 people near the airport.
Biden said he considered the operation a success because more than 120,000 people, mostly foreigners, were evacuated from the country in a matter of weeks, and 90% of Americans who wanted to leave were rescued. There are still between 100 and 200 American citizens to be rescued, and their exit will be negotiated diplomatically.
The Taliban, the group that took control of Afghanistan, have promised foreigners and Afghans who want to leave the country will be able to do so, but it is unclear whether its word will be kept, or what the US government will do. in the event of non-compliance.
In a much more confident tone than last week, when he looked sad and somewhat confused, Biden repeated the sentences he has said in recent weeks: there was no other way to respect the exit agreement and the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan will help the United States to reflect. future challenges, such as competition with China. “The main mission of a president is not to protect America from the threats of 2001, but from the threats of today and tomorrow,” he said.
“When I took office in January, the Taliban controlled about 50% of Afghan territory. I had two choices: stick to what the previous administration had agreed to, or send thousands more American troops and expand the war. interest in that? It was time to end this war, and I take responsibility for the decision, ”he said.
The president said that terrorism has spread to various parts of the world as a metastasis, and that the best way to combat it is to act punctually, rather than to occupy for the long term to try to rebuild countries or to establish governments, as has been attempted. .. in Afghanistan.
Biden spoke hours after the last US plane left Afghanistan on Monday evening (30), which marked the end of the war in Afghanistan, the longest conflict in US history. In two decades, according to a study by Brown University (USA), around 160,000 people have died (including 2,298 American soldiers, 3,814 mercenaries, 1,145 allies; the rest Afghans). The cost was $ 2.26 trillion, a figure the Pentagon estimates at $ 1 trillion.
The Democrat is criticized for the chaotic manner in which the withdrawal was carried out and for the fact that after two decades of war the Taliban managed to return to power. The group had been ousted from the Afghan government shortly after the 2001 invasion, but was not completely eliminated and managed to regain control of the country.
Last year, President Donald Trump signed a peace deal with the Taliban, saying the group could be part of a future coalition government. Biden was elected in November and, after taking office, announced in April that he would stick to his deal – but he would leave before September 11, not May as agreed.
The Taliban have used this as an excuse to tear up their side of the deal. He launched a campaign inside Afghanistan and co-opted tribal leaders. The result was an overwhelming military campaign against major urban centers, which within two weeks saw the entire country surrender and Kabul occupied without resistance, with President Ashraf Ghani fleeing to Abu Dhabi.
This was largely because Biden had decided to anticipate the departure of the troops, which would take place on an even earlier date, August 31. Thus, its some 3,500 soldiers, plus 7,000 other allies, left quickly: in the week before the fall of the capital, 95% of the forces had already left.
Although the withdrawal is complete, several questions remain open. One is how to deal with the Taliban from now on. The group expects international recognition from its government and has promised to act in a less fundamentalist manner. However, it is unclear how things will work in practice and what freedoms will be maintained, especially for Afghan women. When the Taliban ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, women could not work outside the home or study.
On Monday (30), Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a brief statement and said the United States had temporarily suspended diplomatic representation in Afghanistan, but would continue to speak to the Taliban.
Another problem is terrorism, the original reason for the 2001 invasion. The Taliban have been overthrown for harboring people linked to the 9/11 attacks and fear the new regime will make way for new groups planning attacks. abroad.
Last week’s attack was blamed on EI-K, the Afghan wing of Islamic State and rival of the Taliban. A US partnership with the Taliban to fight terrorism would be a difficult turn to explain to Americans who are waging war.
Internally, Biden has other issues to work out. The number of Covid cases continues to rise and the average number of deaths per day exceeds a thousand, a number that has not been seen since March. And, in American news, the damage caused by Hurricane Ida in the south of the country is gaining space.
In September, other issues could also shift attention to the Afghan crisis, such as the approval of an infrastructure investment plan in Congress. Another set of social programs estimated to cost $ 3.5 trillion are also under consideration. And, on the 20th, the application of the third dose of the Covid vaccine will begin for the immune population eight months ago.