WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Tuesday dismissed criticism of his decision to stick to a deadline to leave Afghanistan this week, despite the fact that it left 100 to 200 Americans and thousands of US-aligned Afghan nationals in the country.
Biden criticized the ousted Afghan government’s inability to fight back against swift Taliban advances, which forced the US and its NATO allies to make a hasty and humiliating exit, in a televised address from the White House state dining room, and emphasized the role played by former President Donald Trump.
According to Biden, the Trump-brokered agreement allowed for the release of 5,000 prisoners last year, including some of the Taliban’s top battle leaders among those who had just taken control.
“By the time I took government, the Taliban had consolidated its military position, controlling or contending nearly half of the country,” he stated.
Officials believe 100 to 200 Americans are still in Afghanistan, with the aim of leaving, according to Biden. He claimed that the majority of individuals who stayed were dual citizens and long-term residents who had made the decision to remain, and that the US was eager to get them out.
Many legislators had urged Biden to extend the August 31 deadline in order to allow more Americans and Afghans to flee, but Biden claimed the date was “not arbitrary,” but rather “intended to save lives.”
“I’m the one who made the decision. Some argue that we should have started mass evacuations sooner and that it could have been done more efficiently. “I respectfully disagree,” Biden expressed his dissatisfaction.
Even if the evacuations had started in June or July, he claimed, “there would have been a rush to the airport” from those who wanted to go.
The final US forces left Afghanistan this week, as the Taliban took control, bringing an end to a two-decade military presence that Biden was determined to terminate.
Despite the fact that the majority of Americans agreed with him, the finish has not been simple. Biden’s presidency, which had been focused on combating the coronavirus pandemic and rebuilding the economy, is now facing political scrutiny over how the withdrawal was handled, as well as the logistical challenge of finding new homes for the thousands of Afghans who were relocated to US military bases.
In addition, Biden must deal with an increase in coronavirus infections, natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires, and a succession of tight deadlines for passing funding bills through Congress.
Republicans and some Democrats have expressed dissatisfaction and fury about the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan and what they regard as a disastrous invasion.