Afghanistan: under fire, Joe Biden tries to reassure on the American evacuation strategy

The American president, questioned in the management of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, assured this Friday that 18.000 people had been evacuated since July. While acknowledging that he could not guarantee the “final outcome” of these operations.

“You know my position for a long time, it is time to end this war”. The United States will not go back, said Joe Biden, in a press conference from the White House this Friday, August 19. Criticized for his management of the Afghan crisis, in particular the evacuation of American citizens and Afghans, the American president sought to defend himself against the accusations, for the second time in a few days.

Only the United States is “capable” of carrying out such an evacuation operation, which is among the “most difficult in history”, he said. The U.S. president, flanked by his vice president Kamala Harris and his chief of diplomacy Antony Blinken, tried to be reassuring: the United States has already evacuated 18,000 people from Afghanistan since July, including 13,000 people since August 14, he said. “Thousands more” have also been evacuated by private charter flights facilitated by the U.S. government, he said. Among those evacuated were U.S. citizens, permanent residents, immigration visa applicants and Afghans who have “worked alongside us,” as well as journalists, according to the president.

A management criticized by the Republican camp

Joe Biden is however under fire following images of chaotic evacuations in Kabul, following the fall of the capital to the Taliban on Sunday 15 August. Images of panicked civilians crowding in front of gates or trying to hold on to planes that were about to take off shocked American opinion, which was largely in favor of the withdrawal of troops until this week, while the Biden administration had promised smooth and organized evacuations for its part.

His Republican opponents are particularly critical of the management of the planned August 31 withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, where they have been fighting for 20 years, which they believe has precipitated the fall of the Afghan government. “Abandoning Americans to death is an unforgivable dereliction of duty, which will remain as an infamy,” had assured Friday in a statement the former Republican president Donald Trump, asking once again for the “resignation” of his successor, although he himself decided to accelerate further the withdrawal of troops.

Even in the Democratic camp, some believe that the consequences of this withdrawal had not been sufficiently anticipated, in the face of the collapse of the Afghan regime in just ten days.

“All Americans who want to come home, we will bring them home”

“Let’s be clear: all Americans who want to go home, we will bring them home,” Joe Biden hammered in response, saying that U.S. authorities were mobilizing to ensure access for their citizens to the airport, with 6,000 U.S. troops mobilized around the area. The U.S. plans to evacuate a total of more than 30,000 Americans and Afghan civilians through its bases in Kuwait and Qatar. “We are in contact with the Taliban to safely evacuate our nationals,” he also said, saying the Taliban had been warned that “any attack of any kind on our forces or any disruption of our operations at the airport will be met with force and speed.”

He also said his government is working to evacuate all of its “Afghan allies” who helped the U.S. in its operations in Afghanistan during the war. Since the fall of Kabul, many Afghans, including those who have worked for the United States and have Special Immigration Visas (SIVs) for themselves and their families, have been denied access to the secure airport compound by the U.S. military.

U.S. allies “do not question our credibility.”

The U.S. president acknowledged, however, that he could not guarantee the “final outcome” of the airlift operations in Kabul. “These evacuation operations represent risks for our armed forces, there may be losses,” he added. But as commander-in-chief, I can assure you that I will mobilize all possible means.

For all that, Joe Biden assured that he had the support of the international community. I have not seen any questioning from our allies”, he said, affirming that they “do not question our credibility”.

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