Afghanistan | US mission to Kabul is due to be completed on August 31, Biden says

(Washington) Faced with an ultimatum from the Taliban, Joe Biden confirmed the deadline of 31 Kabul on Tuesday.

Posted on Aug 24, 2021 at 7:46 am Updated at 1:53 pm

Francesco FONTEMAGGI with David FOX in Kabul Agence France-Presse

During a virtual summit with his G7 colleagues, the President of the United States spoke out against an end to the inadmissibility of Washington’s allies, who insisted on expanding the American military presence in order to leave more time for the expulsion of Afghans than they have since are at risk of the Taliban’s seizure of power in their own country.

“We are currently well on the way to complete the ‘mission’ by August 31st to” evacuate people as efficiently and safely as possible, “he said in a repeatedly delayed address.

However, adherence to this deadline “depends” on the Taliban’s cooperation to allow the departure candidates “access to the airport,” he warned, warning them of any “obstruction” to these difficult operations. Joe Biden made it clear that he “has asked the Pentagon and the State Department for contingency plans in order to adjust the schedule if this should be necessary”.

US MARINES PHOTO, VIA REUTERS ARCHIVES

U.S. Army soldiers assigned to the 10th Mountain Division at their positions around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 15, 2021.

“Serious risk”

The 46th President of the United States himself set August 31 for the total withdrawal of foreign troops after first mentioning the symbolic deadline of September 11, the twentieth anniversary of the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

To justify his livelihood after he was surprised by the Taliban’s lightning victory over the government army in favor of this American withdrawal, he cited on Tuesday the “serious and growing threat of attack” by the Islamic State jihadist group.

“Every day of action carries an additional risk for our troops” on behalf of this organization, which “wants to attack the airport and attack the American and Allied forces as well as the innocent civilians,” he said.

The Democratic leader argued that Washington had already evacuated 70,700 people – including 4,000 US citizens – since the airlift was established on August 14, the day before the Taliban invaded and captured Kabul.

” Red line ”

Thousands of Afghans have been crowding the capital’s airport for days, sometimes with their entire families, in the hope of getting on and boarding one of the planes chartered by the West that follow one another on the tarmac.

Before the announcement by the US President, the Taliban had vigorously reaffirmed their “firm” resistance to extending the evacuations beyond August 31 – shown as a “red line” the day before.

During a press conference, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid gave a lecture to the West that was accused of draining the country of vitality by evacuating the Afghans who worked with them, often among the most skilled.

Westerners “have planes, they have the airport, they should take their nationals with them” […] out of here, ”he said. But “they should not encourage Afghans to flee Afghanistan”, nor should they take qualified Afghans, engineers or others with them.

“We ask them to stop […] This country needs its expertise, ”he insisted.

During the G7 meeting with the heads of state and government of Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and Great Britain, the European Union asked Joe Biden to secure Kabul airport “as long as necessary” in order to “complete” the evacuations. to be able to.

“Prevent terrorism”

In their final communiqué, however, the G7 turned to the Taliban and asked them to guarantee “safe passage” beyond August 31 for those who want to leave Afghanistan.

The group of major Western powers also warns the Taliban that they must be accountable “for their actions to prevent terrorism and for human rights, especially of women” September should “never again become a haven for terrorism and a source of terrorist attacks against other” countries.

According to the Washington Post, CIA director William Burns had a confidential interview with Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul on Monday – the highest meeting on this level between the US and the fundamentalist regime since its return to power.

And Joe Biden estimated that the ex-rebels had so far “taken measures” to facilitate the evacuations, even if “the situation was fragile”.

Afghans determined to leave the country at all costs, many of whom have worked for the former government or with foreigners, fear that the Taliban will seek vengeance and establish the same fundamentalist and brutal regime as they were in power. , between 1996 and 2001.

Civil servants

“The Taliban have not changed,” said Nilofar Bayat, captain of the Afghan wheelchair basketball team, who managed to leave their country to seek refuge in Spain.

Outside of Kabul, in the countryside and in some cities, many are relieved that the decades-long war is coming to an end. But women and ethnic minorities are concerned about their plight.

The Taliban are trying to present themselves to the people and the international community in a more moderate light, but without convincing them.

During his press conference, the Taliban spokesman assured that Afghan women employed in the administration could go back to work “if security is ensured” and should stay at home until then.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said Tuesday that the Taliban’s respect for human rights for women and girls was a “fundamental red line”.

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