Biden has ‘contingency plan’ if Afghanistan evacuation misses deadline
Joe Biden has refused to extend his 31 August deadline for withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan despite the protestations of his G7 allies.
The American president said his personnel faced an increasing risk of attacks by Isis suicide bombers, adding: “The sooner we finish, the better.”
European leaders fear that thousands of people vulnerable to Afghanistan’s returning theocratic rulers will be left behind. For its part, the Taliban has begun blocking access to Kabul airport, preventing escape.
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Analysis of yesterday’s G7 disappointment for Boris Johnson from our chief political commentator.
Boris Johnson convened the G7 video meeting because the UK happens to hold the rotating presidency of the organisation this year, and he wanted to be seen to be doing something when Kabul fell to the Taliban, writes John Rentoul.
But the real summit meeting had already happened in person, in Kabul, between William Burns, the CIA director, and Mullah Baradar, of the Taliban.
It was presumably at that meeting that the US accepted that it would abide by the 31 August deadline to leave Afghanistan. The alternative, after all, was to go to war with the Taliban.
And it may have been that the main topic on the agenda at that meeting was what it would take to guarantee that the last flights of US troops can leave in good order.
Jon Sharman25 August 2021 09:12
US military developing contingency plans for staying in Afghanistan after 31 August
Joe Biden is determined to end the US presence in Afghanistan on 31 August.
However, he has said that date depends in part on how the Taliban conducts itself.
Afghanistan’s returning theocratic rulers should continue “to cooperate and allow access to the airport for those who are transporting out and no disruption to our operations”, the US president said on Tuesday in an address that came five hours later than expected.
Later, his press secretary Jen Psaki added: “The president has asked the Pentagon and the State Department for contingency plans to adjust the timeline should that become necessary.”
Jon Sharman25 August 2021 09:02
Just one in four Americans approve of Biden’s management of Afghan withdrawal, poll finds
Only about one-quarter of Americans give Joe Biden positive marks on his handling of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, even as a majority still says that America’s exit is a good idea overall, writes John Bowden.
A poll from USA Today/Suffolk University taken 19-23 August shows just 26 per cent of respondents approving of how Mr Biden has managed the evacuations from Kabul, while 53 per cent agreed that the US still needed to leave the country.
The poll illustrates the wide gap between how those who support a withdrawal expected the US government to manage the removal of US civilians and their allies, and the actual reality that unfolded over the last week following the fall of Kabul to Taliban forces last Sunday.
Jon Sharman25 August 2021 08:53
UK resigned to Washington’s decision
Dominic Raab, the UK’s foreign secretary, struck a defeated tone on Wednesday morning when questioned about the evacuation effort.
Asked about Tuesday’s G7 meeting, the 31 August deadline, and Joe Biden’s comment that the sooner the the evacuation in Afghanistan is finished the better, Mr Raab told BBC Breakfast: “Well look, it’s clear that the troops will be withdrawn by the end of the month.”
Jon Sharman25 August 2021 08:34
Biden refuses to budge on withdrawal deadline
Here is our overnight story with all the detail on Boris Johnson’s failed attempt to buy more time for fleeing Afghans.
Afghans are facing a dark and dangerous future after Boris Johnson and other leaders failed to persuade the US to extend its deadline for evacuation flights, while the Taliban said citizens would no longer be allowed to go to the airport.
With the window of escape rapidly shutting, there is deep apprehension among those who fear persecution by the Talibs that they will be abandoned, trapped in the country isolated from the outside world, writes Kim Sengupta and Andrew Woodcock.
It was reported last night that both Britain and the United States could withdraw even sooner than 31 August because of the need to drawdown troops — perhaps in as little as 36 hours.
Several G7 leaders – believed to include French president Emmanuel Macron and the European Commission’s Ursula von der Leyen as well as the prime minister – voiced concern that thousands will be left behind because of Joe Biden’s self-imposed 31 August deadline.
Jon Sharman25 August 2021 08:31