The militant Islamist Taliban are on the rise in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, US President Biden is sticking to the withdrawal of his troops. The aim was not to stabilize the country.
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US President Joe Biden announced an end to the Afghanistan mission on August 31 and defended the withdrawal of US troops against increasing criticism. “I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan,” said Biden on Thursday (local time) in a speech in the White House.
The US president admitted to journalists that the militant Islamist Taliban are now stronger than ever since the fall of their regime at the end of 2001. But a takeover by the Taliban is “not inevitable,” he said.
Biden: Goals have been achieved
Originally, Biden had announced September 11th as the deadline for the end of the mission. Then it will be the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks by the terrorist network Al-Qaeda in the USA, as a result of which the operation began.
Despite the threatening situation, Biden did not want to admit a failure of the US mission. He said the operation had two goals: to bring Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden “to the gates of hell” and to deprive the terror network of the ability to attack the United States from Afghanistan. “We achieved both of these goals.”
Karzai: USA failed
Biden also said, “We didn’t go to Afghanistan to build a nation.” In fact, for most of the US-led operation, the goal was very well to stabilize Afghanistan, build democracy and uphold human rights. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the Chinese Global Times in an interview published on Thursday: “It is clear that the US has failed.”
Prominent Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called the Democrat Biden’s withdrawal decision “an impending disaster”. Graham criticized on Twitter that Biden did not understand that conditions were just developing in Afghanistan for a resurgence of al-Qaeda and the terrorist militia Islamic State, which posed a threat to the United States.
Civil war not excluded
The Afghan security forces are rapidly losing ground, and the Taliban are taking more and more districts. At the beginning of the week, more than 1,000 Afghan soldiers fled to neighboring Tajikistan fearing for their lives.
The “Wall Street Journal” reported at the end of last month on new assessments by the US secret services that the Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani could topple six to twelve months after the withdrawal of US troops – Biden denied this on Thursday. The US commander in Afghanistan, Austin Miller, said last week, according to American media reports: “Civil war is certainly a path that can be imagined if it continues as it is now.”
Night-and-fog action in Bagram
How bad things are going can also be seen from the Americans’ withdrawal. In a night-and-fog operation, the US troops left their most important base in Bagram at the end of last week – without even informing the Afghan allies. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed that neither the Afghan government nor the military were deliberately informed of the exact time of the withdrawal.
Bagram in Afghanistan: Since the evacuation of the largest US base in the country, the Islamists have been able to conquer at least 13 districts. (Source: Sayed Mominzadah / XinHua / dpa)
“I cannot say how the Afghans interpreted this decision, but it was a decision made in the best interests of the safety of our people.” After almost 20 years of fighting together, trust looks different.
Compare with Vietnam
Biden resisted comparisons with the US defeat in the Vietnam War in the White House on Thursday. “The Taliban are not the North Vietnamese army,” he said. There will be no pictures like the one from Saigon in 1975, where Americans and allied Vietnamese were flown in helicopters from the roof of the US embassy.
The fact that Biden is confronted with such comparisons at all says something about the US military operation in Afghanistan, which his spokeswoman Jen Psaki described on Thursday: “It is a 20-year war that was not won militarily.”
Important campaign promise
Biden had decided single-handedly to withdraw from the US, knowing that it would also mean the end of the NATO mission. The Bundeswehr flew the last German soldiers out of Afghanistan last week. During the election campaign, Biden had already promised to end “eternal wars” in the USA like the one in Afghanistan – his predecessors in the White House had failed because of the project.
More than 1,800 US soldiers have been killed in attacks or skirmishes in Afghanistan since the deployment began in October 2001, and more than 20,000 others were wounded. According to the Pentagon, soldiers will remain in Afghanistan after the end of the military mission, primarily to protect the embassy in Kabul.
Biden show himself “cold”
The Washington Post recently commented that Biden should reconsider the swift withdrawal he has ordered given the beginning of the disintegration of the Afghan government and army. Instead, he was “cold” in view of the country’s plight.
Biden is sticking to his course, even if the withdrawal endangers the achievements of 20 years of international engagement. When a reporter approached him last Friday about the dire situation in Afghanistan, he said: “I want to talk about happy things.”