One-liner: President Joe Biden has ruled out any changes to the US troop withdrawal plan from Afghanistan, despite the Taliban seizing control of huge swathes of the war-torn country, saying Afghan authorities must band together and fight for themselves and their country.Relevance: Despite being greatly outnumbered by the Afghan military as US forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the Taliban has achieved battlefield gains. Over the weekend, the Taliban seized five provincial Afghan capitals.
Backstory: President Biden ordered the withdrawal of all US soldiers from Afghanistan by Sept 11 to bring America's longest conflict to a close.
- The huge process of withdrawing service troops and equipment from Afghanistan is virtually complete, and the US military operation is set to finish on Aug 31
Biden on the matter: “No. Look, we spent over a trillion dollars over 20 years. We trained and equipped over 300,000 Afghan forces. Afghan leaders have to come together. We lost thousands -- lost to death and injury -- thousands of American personnel. They've got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation." - Biden
- “The US -- I'll insist we continue to keep the commitments we made of providing close air support, making sure that their air force functions and is operable, resupplying their forces with food and equipment, and paying all their salaries. But they've got to want to fight. They have outnumbered the Taliban.” - Biden
Support for Afghanistan: According to Biden, Afghans are realizing that they must unite politically at the top. “But we are going to continue to keep our commitment. But I do not regret my decision." - Biden
- Earlier, WH Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the US went to Afghanistan to bring justice to those responsible for the Sept 11 attacks, as well as to disrupt terrorists who wanted to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to strike at the US
- According to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, while the Biden administration intends to continue providing air assistance, there isn't much else the US military can do. “We will certainly support from the air, where and when feasible, but that’s no substitute for leadership on the ground, it’s no substitute for political leadership in Kabul, it’s no substitute for using the capabilities and capacity that we know they have.” - Kirby
The review sought: According to Psaki, the President asked for a clear evaluation as well as a review of the potential repercussions from his staff. “We achieved those objectives some years ago. We judge the threat now against our homeland, which is his responsibility as commander-in-chief to focus on, as being one where the threat emanates from outside of Afghanistan." - Psaki
- "He asked them not to sugarcoat that. He asked them to lay out specifically and clearly what the consequences could be. I'll also note that we have provided a great deal and a range of assistance to the Afghan National Security Defence Forces and also proposed a significant amount of funding in the FY 2022 budget request for $3.3bn for the Afghan Security Forces." Psaki
- “So, he made a decision as commander-in-chief. Those are difficult decisions to make. He did it because, after 20 years at war, it's time to bring our troops -- our men and women -- home. And we will continue to be partners and supporters of their efforts on the ground.” - Psaki
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