Biden is sticking to the August 31 withdrawal deadline for Afghanistan, regardless of strain to increase it
United States President Joe Biden speaks with western state governors and members of his cabinet during an event in Washington, DC on June 30, 2021.
Win McNamee | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden told G-7 leaders during an emergency meeting on Tuesday that he would adhere to the pre-established timetable for the full withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, although the US is also putting in place contingency plans if an extension proves necessary proves.
The White House said in a statement that the US “is currently on track to be ready by August 31”.
“In addition, the president has asked the Pentagon and the State Department to provide contingency plans to adjust the schedule if necessary,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
Biden told G-7 leaders that completion of the mission by August 31 depends on “ongoing coordination with the Taliban, including continued access for evacuees to the airport,” according to the White House. The president also warned that the longer the Western troops are on the ground, the greater the threat from ISIS.
Biden is expected to comment on the evacuation effort at 4:30 p.m. ET.
In a joint statement following the virtual meeting, the G7 expressed “great concern” about human rights, especially for women, in Afghanistan and called on countries around the world to support efforts to relocate vulnerable Afghans.
A Marine from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit walks with the children during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 24, 2021.
Sgt. Samuel Ruiz | US Marine Corps | via Reuters
The Taliban announced on Tuesday that the group would neither allow Afghan nationals to leave the country nor accept an extension beyond the end of the month.
“We are not in favor of allowing Afghans to leave the country,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday.
“She [the Americans] have the opportunity, they have all the resources, they can take all the people who belong to them with them, but we will not allow Afghans to leave and we will not extend the deadline, “he said. Evacuations by foreign forces after August .31 would be a “violation” of the Biden government’s promise to end the US military’s mission in the country, Mujahid said.
Read more about developments in Afghanistan:
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Tuesday that the mission’s schedule has not changed.
“We are still determined to win all the Americans who want to quit and we still believe that we have now been able to increase the capacity and flow, we believe we have the ability to do so through that End of the month, “said Kirby.
“The Taliban have made their expectations very clear,” said Kirby when asked about public statements by the Taliban against a prolonged US military operation in Afghanistan.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said during a press conference Monday that the government is working regularly with the Taliban to meet the August 31 deadline.
“We work with the Taliban and consult with the Taliban on every aspect of what is happening in Kabul,” said Sullivan. “Ultimately, it will be the president’s decision how to proceed and no one else,” he added.
A U.S. Marine provides assistance with an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2021.
US Marines | Reuters
There is political pressure to extend the deadline, especially from Biden’s own party.
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Said Monday after a secret briefing with intelligence officials that it was “very unlikely” that the US would remove all remaining American citizens, special immigrant visa applicants and vulnerable Afghans US could evacuate land by August 31st.
“I am encouraged to see how many people have been evacuated, to the point where we have evacuated 11,000 people in a single day,” Schiff said.
“Still, given the logistical difficulties involved in transporting people to the airport and the limited number of workarounds, I can hardly assume that this will be fully completed by the end of the month. And I certainly believe that we have a military.” Presence as long as it is necessary to get all US people out and to honor our moral and ethical obligations to our Afghan partners. “
The White House said Tuesday that the U.S. has evacuated or helped evacuate or help evacuate approximately 21,600 of them within 12 hours on Monday, about 58,700 people from Afghanistan since Aug. 14.
The US has relocated around 63,900 people since the end of July, the White House said. Around 4,000 American passport holders and their families had been evacuated from Afghanistan by Tuesday.
According to the State Department, several thousand Americans are still waiting to be evacuated.
Crowds gather in front of the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, 23 August 2021.
Asvaka News | via Reuters
More than 5,000 US soldiers are on site in Kabul and are helping with the evacuation efforts. Almost 200 aircraft are in some way earmarked for evacuation.
The Pentagon announced Monday that evacuees were flying from Kabul to temporary safe havens in the Middle East and Europe, including U.S. installations in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Italy, Spain and Germany.
To date, Afghan nationals arriving in the United States have been accommodated at either Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Fort Lee, Virginia, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, or Fort Bliss, Texas.
This story evolves. Please check again for updates.