The Taliban do not agree to a possible extension of the presence of foreign troops at Kabul airport. “August 31 is the red line, otherwise there will be consequences,” spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News. US President Joe Biden said during a speech yesterday that discussions are underway to extend that term.
Biden announced that he would withdraw all military forces on August 31. So if he extends this, it means he is extending the occupation, which is unnecessary, Shaheen said. “If the US or the UK are looking for extra time to continue evacuations, the answer is no. This will arouse mistrust in us. If they continue the occupation, it will provoke a response.”
The United States is responsible for the security of Kabul International Airport. Many Western countries are already saying they need even more time to evacuate their citizens and want US troops to stay longer.
Biden reiterated that the US wants to get all American citizens out of Afghanistan as soon as possible. “33,000 people have been evacuated since July, up from 11,000 in the past 36 hours,” the US president said. It happened chaotically, and people were even killed by drumming outside the airport. But according to Biden, the evacuation of thousands of people is “harsh and painful”.
Biden stressed, however, that “there is still a long way to go” and that the massive operation carries risks. More than 10,000 Americans have yet to be collected, and the government also wants to bring 50,000 Afghans to safety. “A lot can still go wrong,” he warned. “But any American who wants to go home will be able to go home. I want to thank our military and diplomats. What we do is extraordinary.”
There is a risk of terrorists hiding among the Afghan evacuees, but the president tried to allay those concerns. “No plane flies directly to the US,” it said. ‘Handling stations’ have been set up in more than twenty countries where Afghans are carefully screened.
“As soon as the situation is declared safe, we will welcome the Afghans who have helped us to the US.” The US government requisitioned 18 aircraft from six US airlines to support the evacuation mission.
On Tuesday, G7 leaders will discuss the situation in Afghanistan in a video conference. One of the topics on the agenda is the postponement of the deadline. “We’ll see what we can do,” Biden said.
Last week’s harrowing images of Afghans clinging to planes are finally dismissed as “economic migration” by Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen. “I assure you there is nothing to be concerned or afraid about,” it sounds.
He dismisses videos in which the Taliban go from house to house to threaten people or reports about girls’ schools being closed as fake news.