President Joe Biden said U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan until all Americans leave the country — even if it takes longer than his Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw. He added chaos was unavoidable as troops withdrew.
“If there are American citizens left, we’re going to stay to get them all out,” Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview.
Biden explained that chaos in Afghanistan was unavoidable after the U.S. withdrew troops from the country. When asked by Stephanopoulos if the U.S. exit could have been handled better, Biden said no.
“The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens,” he said.
Biden repeated in the interview that he stood by his decision to withdraw.
The United Arab Emirates meanwhile announced it was hosting Ashraf Ghani after the exiled president of Afghanistan fled the country. Commenting on this, Ghani said on Facebook from the UAE that he left Afghanistan to prevent bloodshed, adding that he is in talks to return to his country.
“I am currently in the Emirates so that might have already stopped the bloodshed and chaos, and currently, I am in talks to return to Afghanistan,” he said.
He also said the Taliban should work on building an inclusive government but France’s European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said in an interview on France Info TV and radio that the country won’t recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s government.
“There is no political contact, there will be no deference, no complicity of any sort with the Taliban regime,” Beaune said.
Other Afghan government officials have also fled on a Turkish Airlines flight from Kabul to Istanbul on Monday, the Hurriyet newspaper reported. This included Foreign Minister Mohammed Hanif Atmar, intelligence chief Ahmad Zia Saraj, presidential chief of staff Abdul Matin Bek, as well as Mohammed Sarver Danis, second vice president.
In response to the situation, American regulators have now placed restrictions on U.S. airlines seeking to fly over Afghanistan because there are no longer air-traffic controllers currently on the ground.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a legally binding notice to U.S.-licensed operators requiring that they notify the agency before flying over Afghan territory. The Pentagon and State Department earlier this week said they would be taking over air-traffic control at Kabul’s main airport.
The announcement came before U.S. Troops fired shots in an effort to control crowds at or near the Kabul airport overnight, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters while saying that the airport facility remains “secure.”
The U.S. has about 4,500 troops on the ground at the airport and 18 planes carrying about 2,000 people departed over the previous 24 hours, Kirby further stated. That included 325 Americans.
A group of 300 Afghan refugees arrived in Albania and North Macedonia is expecting 450 more by the end of the week while the first group of Spanish citizens and Afghan allies landed at the military base of Torrejon de Ardoz, near Madrid, in the early hours of Thursday. The plane was carrying 53 people, including 32 children, Spain’s minister for Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations Jose Luis Escriva said.
About 380 or 400 Afghans who worked with EU institutions and requesting asylum are also set to arrive in Spain, and will be resettled in other countries in the bloc, he said.
As others attempt to flee, Taliban fighters have now set up checkpoints around Afghanistan’s international airport, raising concerns the group may prevent more citizens from fleeing the country after the U.S.-backed government collapsed.
White House Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley meanwhile said U.S. intelligence didn’t foresee such a rapid collapse of the Afghan military before American troops were withdrawn from the country.
“There are not reports that I am aware of that predicted a security force of 300,000 would evaporate in 11 days from 6 August to 16 August with the capture of 34 provinces and the capital city of Kabul,” Milley said Wednesday at a news conference.
He added that the situation in Kabul remains dangerous and fluid.