PRESIDENT Joe Biden has deployed 6,000 US troops to Afghanistan to assist with the evacuation of its citizens and Afghan allies following the recent dramatic military victory of the Taliban that has seen it overthrow the government.
On Sunday, the Taliban stunned the whole world when its fighters swept into Kabul, the Afghan capital and forced the government to surrender power to it. As they approached the capital, President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and desperate foreigners, diplomats and pro-government residents have been scrambling to the airport to get flights out for fear of reprisals at the hands of the Taliban.
Criticized for abandoning its ally Afghanistan in its hour of need, the US has been gradually withdrawing its troops from the country after former President Donald Trump struck a deal with the Taliban. President Biden has refused to send these troops back, saying the US cannot fight another nation’s war for it but he added that American troops are working to secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport to enable evacuation.
President Biden said: “Over the coming days we intend to transport out thousands of American citizens who have been living and working in Afghanistan while also continuing to support the safe departure of civilian personnel of our allies who are still serving there. The US military will assist with moving special immigrant visa-eligible Afghans and their families out of Afghanistan.
“American troops are performing this mission as professionally and effectively as they always do but it is not without risks. As we carry out this departure, we have made it clear to the Taliban that if they attack our personnel or disrupt our operation, the US response will be swift and forceful, as we will defend our people with devastating force if necessary.”
Pointing out that American military operations will be highly limited, President Biden said he could not and would not ask the US troops to fight on endlessly in another country’s civil war, taking casualties, suffering life-shattering injuries, leaving families broken by grief and loss. He defended his administration’s decision to continue with the US military drawdown in Afghanistan, blaming the Afghan government and military for allowing the Taliban to take over.
President Biden added: “This is not in our national security interest and it is not what the American people want. Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country, while the Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight.
“If anything, the developments of the past week reinforce that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision. After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces, that’s why we’re still there.”
He said he stood firmly by his decision and argued that he was faced with a choice to either follow through with the drawdown or escalate the conflict into its third decade and ultimately sacrifice more American lives. After seizing large swaths of territory in recent months, the Taliban took control of the capital Kabul, home to some 6m people over the weekend.