Less than 24 hours after the last US military flight leaves KabulPresident Joe Biden argued a defensive defense of the withdrawal, saying it was “the right decision” to end the U.S.’s 20-year military presence in Afghanistan.
Biden said in a statement from the White House on Tuesday that US troops would remain in control of the airport in the Afghan capital. a withdrawal date of 31 August would have exposed them to increased security risks.
‘Let me be clear: the departure of 31 August is not a random deadline. “It was designed to save American lives,” he said.
Biden calls his predecessor Donald Trump’s agreement with the Taliban securing the withdrawal but being responsible for the final decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from the country.
“I would not prolong this eternal war, and I did not want to prolong an eternal exit,” he said. ‘The decision to end the military lift operations at the airport in Kabul was based on the unanimous recommendation of my civilian and military advisers.
Members of the US Congress and Washington’s European allies urged the president to extend the evacuation operation at the airport by the end of the month. But Taliban officials have warned of “consequences” if the U.S. military had not completely withdrawn as scheduled.
To a virtual Group of seven (G7) meeting Last week, European Council President Charles Michel said the European Union stressed to Washington “the need to secure the airport for as long as it takes to complete operations” – a call made by many U.S. lawmakers, including several from Biden ‘s own Democratic Party, is reproduced.
“I firmly believe that we will maintain a military presence as long as it is necessary to remove all American persons and fulfill our moral and ethical obligation to our Afghan partners,” said Adam Schiff, a Democrat who chairs of the House Intelligence Committee, said earlier this month.
The Taliban took over Afghanistan in a flash earlier this month and reached Kabul on August 15 as President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and government forces collapsed.
Almost immediately after the Pentagon announced On Monday that the last US flight left Afghanistan, Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy gathered GOP veterans in Congress to punish Biden.
Congressman Dan Crenshaw, a war veteran who fought in Afghanistan, accused the administration of handing over the country to the Taliban against Washington’s national security interests.
“They like the slogan ‘no more endless wars,'” he said. “We made foreign policy based on an emotional slogan, and it made America less safe, no more safe.”
Biden argued on Tuesday that the withdrawal from Afghanistan is in Washington’s strategic interest as the US shifts its foreign policy to global competition with China and Russia.
“There is nothing that China or Russia would rather have, more in this competition than for the United States to be stuck in Afghanistan for another decade,” he said.
Biden also defends the way in which the withdrawal took place – despite chaos at the airport in Kabul. He called the evacuation mission was an ‘extraordinary success’ and said the US had evacuated more than 120,000 people from the country.
‘We have completed one of the largest aerial lifts in history … That number is more than double what most experts thought was possible. No nation, no nation has ever done anything like this in history, ”Biden said.
Alan Fisher of Al Jazeera, who reported before Biden’s speech from Washington, DC, said the images of Kabul over the past two weeks had been “extremely damaging” to the US president.
“Here was a force that many politicians would describe as the greatest military force ever assembled on earth, humiliated by fighters who continued a rebellious war for 20 years,” Fisher said. “This is not a good day for the American psyche.
But Fisher points to a new poll by Pew Research which shows that 54 percent of respondents still support the decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan. “And that’s the figure Joe Biden will think of,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday, Afghan American activist Lida Azim warned that the withdrawal of American troops does not necessarily mean that the war has ended.
“If the United States is serious about ending a perpetual war, it must immediately end the drone strike and pay compensation and humanitarian aid to the Afghan civil society left behind and betrayed by the United States,” Azim said in a statement. virtual news conference said.
However, Biden made it clear in his speech that the US military will operate from the air in Afghanistan to act against “terrorist threats”.
“We will continue the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and other countries,” the US president said. “We just do not have to wage a ground war to do that. We have what we can call over the horizon, which means we can attack terrorists and targets without American boots on the ground. ”
On Sunday, a U.S. airstrike, according to the Pentagon, said Islamic State militants in Khorasan province, ISKP (ISIS-K), killed 10 Afghan civilians, including several children, according to family members.