WASHINGTON, 17 August — “There was never a good time to withdraw US forces,” says President Joe Biden who, despite the criticism, continues to defend the decision to pull out of Afghanistan. Not long after the withdrawal was announced in April, the Taliban started seizing territory before making rapid advances, culminating in them taking control of Kabul – the last major city to hold out against the group. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled and the government collapsed. The Taliban – ousted by US forces in 2001 – have since declared victory and people are trying to flee, although the city seems quiet and subdued. So far, more than 60 countries have issued a joint statement urging the Taliban to let people leave. The UK, which has sent 900 troops to help evacuate British nationals and eligible Afghan nationals, is set to announce a new resettlement scheme for Afghan refugees and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to call for a coordinated global response to the crisis.
Mr. Biden admits the withdrawal – after 20 years – has been “messy”, but the Taliban gains “reinforce that ending US military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision”. He says: “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.” However, the situation has been met with intense political backlash. Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says it’s an “unmitigated disaster”, and he fears the decision will “leave a stain on the reputation of the United States”. But Mr. Biden says the US mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been about nation-building. “I will not mislead the American people by claiming that just a little more time in Afghanistan will make all the difference.” To keep up to date with the story, follow our live page.
– NDN Reporter