Biden calls Afghanistan’s withdrawal “significant progress”

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U.S. Foreign Policy Update

Joe Biden insisted that his government has made “significant progress” in its efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan because a briefing battle broke out between government agencies to discuss who is responsible for the chaos in Kabul.

Tens of thousands of American citizens and eligible Afghans are struggling to reach the airport in the center of the capital, which is now under the control of the Taliban, which has sparked increasing public criticism within the president’s party.

Biden said in a national television speech on Friday afternoon: “This is one of the largest and most difficult airlifts in history.” “But let me be clear, any American who wants to go home, we will send you home. ”

The White House, US intelligence officials, diplomats, and the Pentagon accused each other in public and a series of disruptive leaks, showing that the crisis was caused by poor planning, weak decision-making, and inaccurate assessment of the prospects. The lightning Taliban took over.

As officials struggled to find capabilities in other countries to deal with people fleeing Afghanistan, the United States was forced to suspend evacuation efforts on Friday.

A senior government official said: “There was a brief operation suspension because we let a lot of people leave yesterday, and there was a little backup when they were dealing with people from third countries. The ground commander has ordered a restart.”

As of Thursday, only 7,000 people have been evacuated in the United States since the outbreak began. Taliban Take over the presidential palace on Sunday. The United States did not specify how many people will be evacuated, but approximately 11,000 U.S. citizens have pre-registered their presence in Afghanistan, and tens of thousands of Afghans who assist the United States in missions are also eligible to evacuate.

US defense officials stated that they have the ability to fly 5,000-9,000 people from Kabul International Airport every day, but they can only manage 2,000 people a day.U.S. officials attribute this to the slow processing of names at the State Department and Taliban checkpoints throughout the city, which are preventing Evacuees From the arrival airport.

Biden promised to leave completely before August 31, but hinted that he could extend the timetable.

Bill Roggio, a military analyst who maintains contact with American citizens unable to reach the airport, said the US evacuation was “shameful.”

“Six days after the fall of Kabul, there are still Americans trapped behind the Taliban line. Every moment is important at this moment,” he told the Financial Times. “In the case of the Taliban manufacturing outside the airport, they did not allow safe passage into the airport, in fact, taking an unknown number of Americans as hostages.”

U.S. military operations are based on urban airports. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said earlier this week that the United States does not have the ability to remove large numbers of people from the airport.

National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan said that the Taliban had notified the United States that they were prepared to provide civilians with a safe passage to the airport, but did not know the “exact timetable.”

He warned separately that the risk of jihadist attacks from the Islamic State affiliates east of Isis is increasing. Afghanistan This treats the United States and the Taliban as enemies.

Sullivan said the government has received reports of people being turned away or even beaten by the Taliban. “We are establishing a channel with the Taliban to try to resolve these issues. We are worried whether this will continue to happen in the next few days,” he said earlier this week.

NATO’s foreign minister issued a statement on Friday calling for “persons of authority in Afghanistan to respect and promote … safe and orderly departures, including through the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul”.

At the time of this crisis, Biden defended himself from incompetent criticism during the time he ordered the US drawdown. Biden told ABC News this week that he did not know how the United States “gets out without chaos.”

But US officials said that the Biden administration was not prepared for the evacuation of citizens from Kabul under the control of the Taliban, and many people were frustrated by the lack of emergency plans.

On Thursday, nearly twenty State Department officials sent a classified telegram directly to U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Brinken in July, warning that the Taliban’s offensive was more urgent than other assessments. It was sent through the department’s confidential “Dissent Channel”, indicating that this is the opinion of a few people.

A person familiar with the content of the memo stated that the telegram “immediately attracted the attention of the secretary and he personally approved the response”.

“We appreciate the drafters’ ideas, which reflect most of the ideas between the department and the entire agency,” the person added.

The leak occurred before Biden told ABC News that the intelligence report did not reach a consensus, which he said indicated that the Taliban was most likely to take over before the end of the year. He added that his senior military advisers had “disagreements” on the timing of the withdrawal, and stated that he believed that no one had expected the “collapse” of the Afghan national army.

Intelligence officials defended their assessment, implying that the timetable for the Taliban’s takeover depends on the cohesion of the Afghan state’s response. But some insiders say that the assessment is not pessimistic enough and relies on group thinking.

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