The U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is perhaps what most Americans have wanted for years. However, to say that the process of removing soldiers and American citizens from the region has been messy would be a profound understatement. As the deadline approaches, the Biden administration’s handling of the affair has many wondering what will happen next.
Biden Gives In to the Taliban
Over the past 15 days, after a resurgent Taliban swiftly regained control of most of Afghanistan, there has been speculation about whether President Joe Biden would seek to extend the Aug. 31 deadline to allow more time to extricate American civilians and Afghan allies from the country. It seemed unlikely that America’s military could transport the thousands of individuals who were stranded in the region – and doubts remain about whether this is possible, or realistic.
On Monday, Aug. 23, the Taliban issued a warning to the United States about the deadline, which had been set by the Biden administration. The terrorist group indicated that failing to withdraw all troops would be a “red line” that would “provoke a reaction.” In a move typical for this president, he gave in.
Defense Department Press Secretary John Kirby said early on Aug. 24 that the administration continues “aiming toward the end of the month” to completely remove troops from the region. “We remain committed to getting any and all Americans that want to leave, to get them out,” Kirby explained. Later in the day, Biden, no stranger to red lines, confirmed that the United States would acquiesce to the Taliban’s demands.
When Biden addressed reporters regarding the ongoing Afghanistan saga, he began by boasting about what the White House has accomplished so far. He said:
“As of this afternoon, we’ve helped evacuate 7,700 people just since August, 14, 75,900 people since the end of July. Just in the past 12 hours, another 19 U.S. Military flights, 18 C-17s, one C-130 carrying approximately 6,400 evacuees, and 31 coalition flights carrying 5,600 people have left Kabul just in the last 12 hours, a total of 50 more flights, 12,000 more people since I updated you this morning.”
The president then referenced his meeting with G7 leaders in which he reaffirmed that the United States would be leaving Afghanistan by the end of the month. “First, on evacuation, we agree that we will continue our close cooperation to get people out as efficiently, as safely as possible,” he said. “We are currently on a pace to finish by August 31. The sooner we can finish, the better. Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops.”
The president intimated that completing the withdrawal by the deadline is contingent on “the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the airport for those who are transporting out and no disruption to our operations.”
What Will Happen After August?
While U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan is coming to an end, the way the process was facilitated signals, for some observers, dire ramifications. When the last soldiers are finally brought home, Afghan allies and American civilians who may be left behind will be in a dangerous situation. Indeed, a recent New York Times report noted:
“Some Afghan military interpreters and other close U.S. allies, a stated priority group for evacuation from Afghanistan, are being turned away from the Kabul airport by American officials in order to give priority to U.S. citizens and green card holders, a State Department official said on Monday.”
There have also been reports of Taliban operatives going door-to-door to find Afghans who aided the U.S. military during the 20-year war. In some cases, they have already killed such civilians. After the United States removes itself, America’s allies will be in grave danger from the terrorist group that will undoubtedly hunt them down for murderous purposes.
The fact that Biden has shown brazen weakness throughout this debacle will only embolden the Taliban in its refusals to respect human rights. It is also possible that the organization will ramp up its efforts to support terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. All in all, this situation will be a disaster for those left behind, and, even further, it demonstrates to the rest of the world that America is not committed to protecting its allies. While most of the American public wanted the war to end, this was not the conclusion for which they hoped.