Saturday, September 18, 2021

Biden says ‘chaos’ unavoidable once U.S. leaves Afghanistan

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The U.S. President, Joe Biden, said that “chaos’’ was unavoidable,  once the U.S. decided to leave Afghanistan after two decades of war.

“The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens,” Biden said in an interview with ABC News.

Biden was asked in the interview aired on Wednesday,   whether the U.S. Government made mistakes in its handling of the withdrawal from the country.

“When you heard the government of Afghanistan, the leader of that government, gets into a plane and took off for another country; when you saw the significant collapse of the Afghan troops we had trained, up to 300,000 of them, just leaving their equipment and taking off. That’s simply what happened.

“And so the question was, in the beginning, did  we commit to leave within the timeframe we set, do we extend it to Sept. 1, or do we put significantly more troops in?

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“U.S. military leaders said they were not aware of any reports or scenarios from the intelligence services, that may  have foreseen events unfolding so quickly,’’ Biden told ABC News.

Another response by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, there was nothing that I saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days, he told a news conference on Wednesday.

“The timeframe of rapid collapse was widely estimated and ranged from weeks to months and even years following our departure,’’ Milley said.

“There are not reports that I am aware of, that predicted a security force of 300,000 will evaporate in 11 days,’’ the general added.

The U.S. media have cited intelligence sources as saying that the Biden administration, had received internal warnings of a possible very rapid collapse.

Biden said that some U.S. troops might remain in Afghanistan, past the Aug. 31, deadline he had set for the withdrawal from the country, if the evacuation of U.S. citizens was not completed by then.

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“If there are American citizens left past Aug. 31, we are going to stay until we get them all out,’’ Biden said when pressed on the subject by interviewer George Stephanopoulos.

Biden insisted that the United States would try to get all its citizens and allies out of the country before the deadline.

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“If we don’t, we’ll determine at the time that is left.

“The commitment holds to get everyone out that, in fact, we can get out and everyone who should get out,’’ he said.

Biden said that between 10,000 and 15,000 U.S. citizens were still in the country and estimated 50,000-65,000 U.S. allies, a figure which included their families.

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The United States military had flown around 2,000 people out of the Afghan capital Kabul, over the last 24 hours, including 325 U.S. citizens, according to its own figures.

In the past 24 hours, 18 C-17 transport planes departed from Kabul, Pentagon Spokesman, John Kirby had said.

He said he expected 2,000 more people would be evacuated by Thursday morning. This figure included Afghan citizens, other civilians from NATO countries and U.S. citizens.

The U.S. now had around 4,500 soldiers at Kabul airport and plans to increase the number to 6,000 soon.

The soldiers were there to ensure the security of the airport and, among other things, organise the evacuation of U.S. citizens and former Afghan employees of the U.S. forces.

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Austin said there had been no clashes between U.S. and Taliban forces at the airport and that communication channels with Taliban decision-makers were open.

dpa/NAN

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