After the Taliban indicated it would not give him any more time to evacuate US citizens and refugees, President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he will stick to an August 31 deadline for pulling US troops from Afghanistan.
Critics blasted Biden for appearing to give up to the Taliban, claiming that Americans and Afghans who assisted the US troops may be left behind, prompting the White House to insist that "contingency" preparations would still be in place if necessary.
During a morning video conference with fellow G7 leaders, Biden revealed his decision. He was supposed to give a noon speech to the American people, but his comments were continually postponed as criticism increased.
Allies railed against Biden's US troops withdrawal in Afghanistan
After two former British prime ministers and numerous MPs raged against President Joe Biden's abrupt withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the United States may have lost its closest allies. Many British Lawmakers, regardless of political affiliation, have slammed Biden.
According to Newsweek via MSN, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair blasted Biden's hasty withdrawal in a long piece published on his website on Saturday, calling it "imbecilic." Former Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May questioned Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the House of Commons on August 19 on how Britain might have underestimated the Taliban's power when they stormed Kabul on August 15.
On condition of anonymity, a UK government minister said the United States' departure simply indicated to the world that they are not that interested in playing a global role. On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will attend crisis talks on Afghanistan with international leaders, including Biden, to discuss evacuation plans and a longer-term strategy for the Central Asian country.
According to reports in the British press, Johnson would push Biden to extend the deadline for removing soldiers from the nation from August 31 to give more time for evacuations. The Taliban, on the other hand, has warned that extending the deadline may provoke a reaction.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines addressed legislators on the status of the evacuations on Tuesday morning.
"There's no possible way that we can get every American that is still in Afghanistan out in the next seven days," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters following the meeting.
Taliban leaders urge not to extend the withdrawal
In one significant difference between Biden's public statements and those of military leaders, the president stated on Friday that no Americans in Afghanistan were unable to access Kabul's airport, but the Pentagon quickly contradicted him.
In a Fox News interview on Tuesday, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) claimed that by sticking to the Taliban's August 31 deadline, "Joe Biden looks ridiculous on the world stage," The decision by Biden to withdraw US troops from the 20-year battle was widely praised, and the process began under former President Donald Trump. However, how the departure was carried out generated a barrage of criticism, NY Post reported.
Following the Taliban's takeover of Kabul last week, some 5,200 US forces are in the Afghan capital assisting with an airlift out. Taliban commanders requested that Biden not extend the evacuation deadline, threatening to seize control of the airport.
Per CNBC, the president has received political pressure from both his European allies, like the United Kingdom and his party in Washington to extend the withdrawal deadline. On Tuesday, though, Biden warned that remaining longer poses a severe risk to allied troops and civilians.
According to the president, ISIS-K, an Afghan affiliate of the terror group, poses an increasing danger to Hamid Karzai International Airport. Biden also called the United States' relationship with the Taliban in Kabul "tenuous."
The president said the militants have worked with the US on the evacuations, but the longer the US remains, the higher the chance of combat breaking out. Since August 14, the US has evacuated or assisted in the evacuation of about 70,700 individuals from Afghanistan, according to the White House. Nearly 75,900 persons have been moved to the United States since the end of July.
Approximately 4,000 American passport holders and their families have been flown from Afghanistan as of Tuesday, while many more are said to be awaiting evacuation. The world's seven main industrialized democracies, NATO, the European Union, and the United Nations have decided to "stand united in our approach to the Taliban," Biden claimed.