Joe Biden has rejects G7 plea to extend Afghanistan withdrawal deadline
The G7 failed to convince Biden to extend his self-imposed deadline and help save thousands in the chaotic evacuation of vulnerable Afghans.
Boris Johnson said evacuations of vulnerable Afghans will “go up until the last minute” after he and other G7 leaders failed to convince US president Joe Biden to try and extend the August 31 deadline to withdraw from Afghanistan.
The Western allies including Australia are to begin the process of evacuating their military from Afghanistan and will begin stepping down its evacuation priorities after the Americans had stood firm on the withdrawal date at the end of the month.
Biden rejected requests from major allies to extend the deadline, although the Pentagon has been asked to develop contingency plans if it is necessary for any reason to stay longer to withdraw any US military left behind. The Pentagon told Biden that the risks to US troops were too high if they remain in the country.
This comes after the CIA Director William J Burns was reported to have held top level meetings with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul earlier this week.
Boris Johnson warned the Taliban that Afghanistan “can’t lurch back into becoming a breeding ground of terror, Afghanistan can’t become a narco state, girls have to be educated up to the age of 18” or else the huge international funds propping up the country won’t be unfrozen.
He said that the G7 had huge leverage because of the financial support that can be provided to the country.
Johnson said he was totally realistic about the Taliban, adding: “I don’t think that anybody is going to pretend that this is anything other than a very difficult situation.”
“But that doesn’t mean that we should ignore the leverage that we have. We want to help with the humanitarian crisis, the difficulties that people in Afghanistan, people fleeing Afghanistan, are going to experience.
“But when it comes to engaging with the Taliban, and engaging with the government in Afghanistan, whatever its exact composition, the G7 has huge leverage.”
Johnson said 9000 people had been evacuated from Kabul on 57 flights in the past 10 days since the Taliban swept to power in an almost bloodless coup.
“We will go right up until the last moment that we can,” said Johnson
While the British won’t stay if the US forces withdraw, but Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau says that Canada is ready to stay in place beyond the withdrawal deadline if the Taliban gives people safe passage to Kabul airport.
But the Taliban have made it clear that they don’t want Afghans leaving the country and that they will take a very different stance after the August 31 withdrawal timetable.
A spokesman for the militant group told reporters that there would be “no extensions” to the August 31 deadline set by the US for the withdrawal of its troops. The US military currently controls Kabul airport from which evacuation flights are taking place.
Here is a round-up of key developments, follow live updates below.
- The UK, France and Germany say evacuation operations should continue beyond August 31.
- Senior government ministers from the UK, Germany and Spain say they cannot bring out all those eligible for evacuation from Kabul before the deadline. France has also said a delay is needed to complete operations.
- The Taliban warns the US and allies will face “consequences” if they stay past the deadline.
- The UN’s human rights chief has cited “harrowing and credible” reports of severe abuses in areas under Taliban control, including the “summary execution of civilians.”
The US have ailanated their allies
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday that additional time beyond the August 31 deadline is necessary for evacuations.
A Elysee spokesperson added on Tuesday that the length of France’s military evacuation operation depends entirely on when the United States decides to pull its soldiers out of Kabul’s airport.
“We are in the hands of the United States,” the spokesperson said during a press briefing. “What we are telling the Americans is naturally to give us the maximum time to pursue the operations.”
But Biden decided to maintain the August 31, mindful of the security risks in remaining in Afghanistan longer, the US official said. The President has asked for contingency plans in case he determines at a later date the US needs to remain in the country for longer.
At the White House briefing on Tuesday, Psaki said that if August 31 holds as the date of US withdrawal from Afghanistan, evacuations will need to end even earlier to leave time to withdraw troops and machinery.
The decision will be met with dismay by allies who fear there won’t be enough time to get their citizens, along with Afghans who assisted in the war effort, out of the country by the end of the month.
Despite the pressure on Biden, NATO will also pull its footprint from Afghanistan when the US withdraws, according to a diplomat familiar with the matter.
The diplomat said people on the ground in Kabul were not pleased by Biden’s decision to stick to the deadline, saying there is “an evident disconnect between the reality and the politics.” They estimated that tens of thousands of people would be left behind because of the August 31 deadline.
Jen Psaki has also hit back at Tony Blair’s criticism on Afghanistan saying Joe Biden is talking to the “current” UK leader.
The former Prime Minister, who sent troops into the country in 2001 after 9/11, has slammed the US “abandonment” of Afghanistan and branded the withdrawal ““tragic, dangerous, and unnecessary.”
The US president’s White House press secretary strongly pushed back against Mr Blair’s essay on the matter when she spoke to reporters on Monday.
“The President has been in touch directly with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is the current leader of the UK,” she said when asked about it at her daily briefing.
Blair wrote in the op-ed, published by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, that the Taliban’s sweeping return to power could leave Western allies doubting their “strategic will.” In the essay Blair managed to blame everyone but himself for the tradgady that is Afghanistan .