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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

After Kabul’s fall, what the US has said, done so far

As many likened the US decision to withdraw forces to the fall of Saigon, US president Joe Biden defended his decision, saying an indefinite US military presence was not an option.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
August 16, 2021 7:50:09 pm
Joe Biden; A man pulls a girl to get inside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 16, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)

With the situation worsening in Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul after the Taliban took over the country, the United States has decided to deploy 6,000 troops at the vital city airport to ensure the safe departure of American citizens and its allies.

Taliban assumed control over Afghanistan in a lightning offensive over eight weeks that saw provinces and warlords give up without a fight, days after a hasty withdrawal of the US troops. As hundreds of panic-stricken people thronged the Kabul airport on Monday, at least five were killed trying to forcibly enter a plane in order to flee the Afghan capital.

The US, which had already announced it would press 5,000 troops for an “orderly and safe drawdown of US personnel” and other allies, said it would raise its deployment by another 1,000.

As many likened the US decision to withdraw forces to the fall of Saigon, US president Joe Biden defended his decision, saying an indefinite US military presence was not an option.

“One more year, or five more years, of US military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country. And an endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me,” Biden said in a statement. “I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth,” he stated.

He, however, extended his help in evacuating Afghans who helped the US in its mission and those “at special risk from the Taliban advance”. Biden also mentioned that his administration has conveyed to the Taliban officials in Qatar that any action putting US personnel at risk “will be met with a swift and strong US military response”.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, insisted Kabul could not be compared to Saigon. “This is manifestly not Saigon,” the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told ABC’s This Week. “We went into Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission in mind, and that was to deal with the people who attacked us on 9/11, and that mission has been successful.”

Blinken’s comments came even as US aircraft hovered in Kabul skies Sunday, much like during the Saigon evacuation of 1975.

Biden to marshal international community on rights in Afghanistan: adviser

Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday said that Biden is prepared to marshal the international community on human rights in Afghanistan. “He is prepared to marshal the international community on this issue. He cares passionately about these human rights questions, and we will stay focused on them in the period ahead,” Sullivan said during an interview with Today.

“But that was not a reason for the United States to enter a third decade of war in the middle of an internal conflict in another country,” he said, echoing Biden on the White House’s decision to step back at this time.

Terror threats from Taliban-run Afghanistan looms over US

With the collapse of an elected government in Kabul, the United States, which had waged its longest-running conflict in history to drive the Taliban out from Afghanistan since 2001, could now face a rise in terrorist threats from a Taliban-run Afghanistan. The warning comes as intelligence agencies charged with anticipating the threats face new questions after the US-backed Afghan military fell with shocking speed.

Gen Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Sunday told senators that US officials are expected to alter their previous assessments about the pace of terrorist groups reconstituting in Afghanistan, a source told The Associated Press.

In June, the Pentagon’s top leaders said an extremist group like al-Qaida could be able to regenerate in Afghanistan and pose a threat to the US homeland within two years of the US’ military withdrawal from the country.

Collapse of Kabul will go down as one of the greatest defeats in American history: Trump

The fall of Kabul to the Taliban without any resistance will be remembered as one of the greatest defeats in American history, former US President Donald Trump said. “What Joe Biden has done with Afghanistan is legendary. It will go down as one of the greatest defeats in American history,” Trump said in a short statement hours after the Taliban took over the presidential palace in Kabul while its elected leader Ashraf Ghani fled the country along with his senior officials.

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