U.S. President Joe Biden has ordered 6,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan to aid the evacuation process underway in the country. Afghanistan’s legal government has been ousted, with President Ashraf Ghani having escaped the country and the Taliban in control of the government palace in Kabul.
“Based on the recommendations of our diplomatic, military, and intelligence teams, I have authorized the deployment of approximately 5,000 U.S. troops to make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of U.S. personnel and other allied personnel, and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance,” Biden said in a statement on Aug. 14.
The administration has placed Ambassador Tracey Jacobson in charge of processing, transporting, and relocating Afghan allies, including Afghan Special immigrant Visa applicants. Washington has also conveyed to Taliban representatives in Doha that any action that puts American personnel or their mission at risk in Afghanistan will be met with “a swift and strong U.S. military response.”
Biden said that Washington already had an agreement with Taliban to exit the country by May 21, 2021, a deal reached during the Trump administration.
“One more year, or five more years, of U.S. 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.
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Later, Biden announced that an additional 1,000 troops would be deployed to Afghanistan, pushing up the total number of military personnel sent back to 6,000.
America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan has cost the country almost a trillion dollars and thousands of military personnel.
Republican Representative Michael McCaul stated in an interview with CNN that Biden was going to have “blood on his hands” after the Taliban quickly took over Afghanistan. “They totally blew this one. They completely underestimated the strength of the Taliban,” McCaul said.
In a video on his YouTube Channel, political commentator Ben Shapiro insisted that America was achieving its primary objective in Afghanistan, which was to maintain a base of operations to fight terrorism. “And then, political actors decided that surrender was preferable to any form of success. So, they just pulled out precipitously while proclaiming victory.”
Republican Senator Tom Cotton said in a tweet that the fiasco in Afghanistan “wasn’t just predictable, it was predicted.” He said that the way the U.S. has retreated from Afghanistan “has now humiliated America and put at risk thousands of Americans left in Kabul.”
Interestingly, Biden hasn’t made any comments after the Taliban overthrew the Afghan government. Vice President Kamala Harris hasn’t spoken publicly since August 10. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who usually hosts press briefings on weekdays, has not held a briefing since August 11. When The Epoch Times tried to contact her, an automated email message said that Psaki is “out of the office” from August 15 to 22.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the American government. “[It is] fair to say the US decision to pull out has accelerated things, but this has in many ways been a chronicle of an event foretold… I think it is very important that the West should work collectively to get over to that new government – be it by the Taliban or anybody else – that nobody wants Afghanistan once again to be a breeding ground for terror,” Johnson said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that it was pulling out 10,000 Afghans from the Taliban-controlled country. These Afghans include translators, human rights activists, and so on. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he was “heartbroken” at the situation facing the Afghan people. Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Luigi di Maio admitted to local media that the West had made mistakes and that “it is correct to admit it.”
A month ago, Biden had stated that America’s pullout from Afghanistan would share no similarity to the fall of Saigon in 1975 when communist forces in Vietnam overran the capital city. The event had resulted in American civilians and staff hastily evacuating the country via military helicopters.
“There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy,” Biden had said while insisting that the possibility of Taliban taking over the country was “highly unlikely.”
The president’s expectations have completely been shattered as the U.S. military desperately evacuated American embassy staff from the Afghan capital of Kabul.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson confirmed that America has fully evacuated the Kabul embassy. The evacuated people are on the premises of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul whose perimeter has been secured by U.S forces. Prior to evacuation, security engineers at the embassy destroyed sensitive hard drives, stripped off alarms, and took down cameras.
The situation at the airport has been chaotic, with thousands of Afghans rushing in to escape the country. U.S. forces had to fire in the air to prevent civilians from running onto the tarmac. “The crowd was out of control… The firing was only done to defuse the chaos,” a U.S. official said to Reuters.
Some people even tried to cling onto the outside of a U.S. aircraft as it was departing the airport. One person fell hundreds of feet up from the sky.
According to latest reports, all U.S. evacuation, military, and charter flights have been suspended at the airport, with a U.S official saying that the runway is not secure. Five people have been killed at the airport. It is not clear whether they died due to gunshots or the stampede.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Matt Zeller, US veteran of the Afghan war, called the current situation in Afghanistan “a disaster of epic proportions.” He warned that those who served the American side in the war are now being persecuted. He wants Washington to open a secure corridor so that these “wartime allies” can be pulled out from Afghanistan.
“There are 44,000 people who are outside of Kabul and in other cities. The reports from them are horrific. There are public executions in Kandahar in the stadium… Women have been told they cannot leave their homes in Herat and the Taliban are going door to door in Mazar-i-Sharif looking for anyone who worked with the US military. This is a report we are hearing in other cities, including in Kabul,” Zeller said.
Taliban has declared an end to the war and is expected to proclaim a new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in the coming days. According to spokesman Mohammad Naeem, the outfit will soon begin the process of establishing a government. He insisted that the Taliban is seeking a peaceful transition to power and that they do not wish to rule the country in isolation.
“Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the mujahideen [Taliban]… They have witnessed the fruits of their efforts and their sacrifices for 20 years,” Naeem said. He added that the Taliban would honor the freedom of minorities and women’s rights under sharia law.
Women in Afghanistan are extremely worried about the Taliban’s ascension. The past two decades of American-backed government had given Afghan women better exposure to education and employment, freedoms which are now under threat.
In an interview with Associated Press, a 25-year-old university graduate who works for a local NGO admitted that she hasn’t been out of her home for weeks due to the threat posed by the extremists. She said that few women were now on the streets. Even female doctors are staying confined within their homes.
“I can’t face Taliban fighters… I don’t have a good feeling about them. No one can change the Taliban’s stance against women and girls, they still want women to stay at home,” she said while asking that her name be kept a secret due to fear of retribution from the Taliban.