No intelligence failure in Afghanistan, says Biden

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President pins blame on Afghanistan for the collapse of the government and meltdown of Afghan forces as he defended himself amid the backlash, reports Asian Lite News

United States President Joe Biden on Wednesday responded to the criticism that the hasty pullout of forces from Afghanistan was a glaring intelligence failure, saying it was “a simple choice”. Biden also said that the fallout in Afghanistan following the pullout could not have been handled in a way without “chaos ensuing”.

In an interview with an American television ABC, Biden was asked whether the situation over the past one week was a result of intelligence, planning, execution, or judgement failure. To this Biden responded by saying that he “doesn’t think it was a failure” and it was a simple choice.

Biden also pinned the blame on the South Asian nation for the collapse of the Afghan government and meltdown of Afghan forces as he defended himself amid the backlash. “When you had the government of Afghanistan, the leader of that government getting in a plane and taking off and going to another country, when you saw the significant collapse of the Afghan troops we had trained, 300,000 of them, just leaving their equipment and taking off… that’s what happened, that’s simply what happened,” he said during the interview.

“No, I don’t think it could have been handled in a way that, we’re going to go back in hindsight and look, but the idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens,” Biden also said.

Afghanistan fell into turmoil after the Taliban seized power in the country by capturing a city by city in just 10 days. Since the fall of Kabul over the weekend, scenes of chaos have unfolded as thousands tried to flee, fearing a return to the brutal regime of the Taliban that ended 20 years ago.

After the military takeover, the group has also seized huge amounts of weaponry, equipment and munitions from the Afghan armed forces, most of it supplied over the past two decades by the US.

Critics say that the US could have prevented the chaos in the country by handling the situation better or delaying the troop pullout. The Biden administration had long promised an “orderly drawdown” of America’s longest war, with the president saying US forces no longer have any national interest in fighting in a protracted conflict.

Earlier Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said that their mission in Afghanistan has been completed. “We went to Afghanistan 20 years ago, with one mission in mind, and that was to deal with the people who attacked us on 9/11 and that mission has been successful,” Blinken said.

The US entered Afghanistan in 2001 and ousted the Taliban who were ruling the country since 1996.

US troops in Afghanistan. (File Photo DoD_IANS)

Troops to stay till all Americans out, says Biden

Biden has committed to keeping US troops in Afghanistan until every American is evacuated, even if that means maintaining a military presence there beyond his August 31 deadline for withdrawal.

“US is committed to getting every American out of Afghanistan — even if it means potentially extending the mission beyond his August 31 deadline for a total withdrawal,” Biden said in an exclusive interview with American Broadcasting Company (ABC).

Biden’s pledge came as 5,000 people were evacuated from Kabul’s airport and armed members of the Taliban kept some Afghans desperate to leave the country from reaching the airfield.

On Sunday, the Taliban declared victory after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled abroad and his government collapsed.

Like many other countries, the US started evacuating its nationals and some Afghans with links to foreign governments and organisations.

The US government has said that thousands of American citizens, locals embassy staff and their families, as well as other “vulnerable Afghan nationals” will be airlifted in the coming days.

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley outlined the dangerous situation on the ground in Afghanistan, saying US troops are “at-risk” and that they need to be the nation’s main focus.

He, however, said that the security situation at the airport is currently stable, but there are threats and they are being monitored.

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