Washington: Facing criticism over his policy on Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden has defended his move to withdraw American troops from the war-torn country, saying history will record this as a “logical, rational and right decision”.
The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on August 15, two weeks before the US was set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly two-decade war.
The insurgents stormed across the country, capturing all major cities in a matter of days, as Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the US and its allies melted away.
Thousands of Afghan nationals and foreigners are fleeing the country to escape the new Taliban regime and to seek asylum in different nations, including the US and many European nations, resulting in total chaos at Kabul airport and deaths.
The Biden administration has come under criticism, especially the Opposition Republican Party, for the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan as the Taliban captured power, resulting in chaos and deaths.
However, the US President stood by his decision.
“I think that history is going to record this was the logical, rational and right decision to make,” he told reporters in an interaction at the White House on Sunday.
Indian-American politician and former US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley said earlier in the day: “They (the US administration) have surrendered the American people and actually withdrew our troops before they withdrew the American people.
“They have abandoned our Afghan allies who kept people like my husband safe while they were overseas deploying. So, no, there was no negotiating. This was a complete and total surrender and an embarrassing failure, she said.
Biden said the Taliban has to make a fundamental decision.
“Is the Taliban going to attempt to be able to unite and provide for the wellbeing of the people of Afghanistan, which no one group has ever done?
“And if it does, it’s going to need everything from additional help, in terms of economic assistance, trades and a whole range of things,” he said.
“The Taliban has said — we will see whether they mean it or not — they’re seeking legitimacy… to determine whether or not they will be recognised by other countries. They have told other countries as well as us that they don’t want us to move our diplomatic presence completely. All of this is all just talk now, Biden said.
He said that so far, the Taliban has not taken any action against US forces, by and large following through what they said in terms of allowing Americans to pass through.
“I’m sure they don’t control all of their forces. It’s a ragtag force. And so, we’ll see… whether or not what they say turns out to be true,” he said.
Biden said that in a 36-hour span, the US has lifted about 11,000 people out of Kabul.
“In a little over 30 hours this weekend, we’ve evacuated an extraordinary number of people, as I will detail in a minute: about 11,000 individuals. That number will change day to day as the air and ground operations in Kabul vary, he said.
The first priority is getting Americans out of the country as quickly and as safely as possible, he said.
“At my direction, the State Department continues to reach out to the remaining Americans we have identified by phone, e-mail and other means to ascertain their whereabouts and their plans,” he said.
The US is also evacuating the citizens of NATO allies and its partners, including their diplomats, embassy staff who remain in Afghanistan and to get them back to their homes as well.
“As we do this, we’re also working to move our Afghan allies, who stood with us side by side, and other vulnerable Afghans such as women leaders and journalists, out of the country.
“As of this morning, we have evacuated nearly 28,000 people since August the 14th, on both US and coalition aircraft, including civilian charters, bringing the total number of people we have evacuated since July to approximately 33,000 persons,” he said.
In one 24-hour period this weekend, 23 US military flights — including 14 C-17s, 9 C-130 flights — left Kabul carrying 3,900 passengers, Biden said.
We see no reason why this tempo will not be kept up. During the same period, our military facilitated another 35 charter flights carrying an additional nearly 4,000 evacuees to other countries that are taking them out,” he added.