Fall of a Nation; Biden doesn’t regret Withdraw of US Troops from Afaghanistan

Edited by Gareth Evans Updated at 0022 GMT Tuesday 17th Dec 2021

Afaghanistan Troops – Courtesy photo

Summary

  1. US President Joe Biden defends decision to pull out of Afghanistan, a day after Taliban militants seize control of the country
  2. Biden admits, however, that events developed quicker than he thought and blames Afghan leaders for the collapse
  3. At least five people are reported killed at Kabul airport where thousands try to flee
  4. Some try to cling on to departing planes – forcing the flights to be grounded
  5. The US is also sending another 1,000 troops to help with the evacuation
  6. More than 60 countries have issued a joint statement calling on the Taliban to allow people to leave
  7. The Taliban swept into Kabul unopposed on Sunday, and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country
  1. Posted at 23:3723: Key points from Biden’s address on Afghanistan: ‘I stand squarely behind my decision’Joe Biden on Afghanistan: ‘I stand squarely behind my decision’For those of you just joining us, here are the key points from President Biden’s speech:
    • The US president said he stood by his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, adding that he would not pass the war on to a fifth president
    • He said the 20-year mission was not meant to be about “nation building” or “creating a unified, central democracy”, but was designed to prevent a terrorist attack on American soil
    • Biden conceded that the country had folded “quicker than anticipated”
    • He said American troops were trying to gain control of the airport and take over air traffic control
    • Biden also warned that if American troops are attacked by the Taliban, the US would “defend our people with devastating force”
  2. Posted at 23:2523:25Biden vows ‘swift and forceful’ defence”We’ve made it clear to the Taliban [that] if they attack our personnel, or disrupt our operation – the US… response will be swift and forceful,” says Biden.”We will defend out people with devastating force if necessary.””I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth president,” he adds, repeating a line he has often said since his April decision to leave Afghanistan by September.”I am deeply saddened by the facts we now face but I do not regret my decision to end America’s war fighting in Afghanistan.””I am the president of the US, the buck stops with me.”Article share tools
  3. Posted at 23:2323:23 Endless military deployments not the way – Biden Biden says Washington will “continue to push for diplomacy” in Afghanistan. “Now we’re focused on what is possible,” he says, adding that the US will:
    • Continue to support the Afghan people
    • Lead with our diplomacy, our international influence and our humanitarian aid
    • Push for regional diplomacy and engagement to prevent violence and instability
    • Speak out for the basic rights of the Afghan people”I’ve been clear, human rights must be the centre of our foreign policy, but the way to do it is not through endless military deployments,” he adds.Article share tools
    • Posted at 23:1923:19 Biden defends delayed evacuations Responding to criticism that the US did not act swiftly enough to evacuate threatened Afghan civilians, he says the reason for the delay was two-fold.”Afghans did not want to leave earlier,” he starts.The other reason was that the Afghan officials did not want to trigger a “crisis of confidence” that would happen if mass evacuations began, says Biden.Article share tools
  4. Posted at 23:1623:16 This is personal for me – Biden Biden says the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan is “gut-wrenching” for US veterans who fought there over the past 20 years. For them, he says, “this is deeply deeply personal”.”It is for me as well. I’ve worked on these issues as long as anyone,” he continues.”From Kabul to Kandahar… I’ve spoken to the people. I’ve met with the leaders. I’ve spoken to our troops.”Article share tools
  5. Posted at 23:1323:13 I told Ghani to negotiate – Biden The US president says the Afghan government failed to take his advice and negotiate a political settlement with the Taliban.“Mr Ghani insisted that the Afghan forces would fight. But obviously he was wrong.”Article share tools
  6. Posted at 23:1223:12 I stand by my decision – Biden”I stand squarely behind my decision,” Biden says.He adds that he has “always promised the American people I would be straight with you”, but admits that the situation with the Taliban’s recent advance has “unfolded more quickly than we anticipated”.”Americans cannot and should not be dying and fighting in a war that Afghans are not willing to fight for themselves,” he says.Article share tools
  7. Posted at 23:1123:11 There was never a good time to withdraw – Biden Biden continues by saying that former US President Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban shrunk the US troop presence in the nation from about 15,500 to 2,500. He adds that Trump’s deal with the Taliban called for US forces to leave by 1 May.”The Taliban was at its strongest militarily since 2001,” he says.”The choice I had to make as your president was either to follow through on that agreement, or be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban in the middle of the May fighting season.”There was no agreement after 1 May to protect US troops from the Taliban after that date, he says.”There was never a good time to withdraw US forces,” he says, adding that the country folded “quicker than anticipate
  8. Posted at 23:0523:05 US closely monitoring events – Biden President Biden is now speaking from the White House.In a live televised address, he says his national security team is “closely monitoring” the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.In the president’s first remarks since the Afghan government fell to the Taliban on Sunday, he says the US mission in Afghanistan was “never supposed to be nation building,” but instead was designed to prevent “a terrorist attack on US soil”.
  9. Posted at 23:0323:03 Protests continue outside White House Sam Farzaneh Biden was seen returning to the White House earlier today Washington DC police have closed Lafayette Park on the north side of the White House. The park has been the scene of angry protests against the US withdrawal since the fall of Kabul on Sunday.The park’s closure is a sign of security concerns by police and the Secret Service.A group of Afghans are continuing to gather nearby to protest as President Biden prepares to address the nation. The protesters who come from one of the largest Afghan communities in the DC area were here on Sunday as well. They tell me they are just hoping “someone can hear” their concerns and do something for the people of Afghanistan.Article share tools
    • Posted at 22:5722:57 Crisis management at the White House , Washington The West Wing looks much as it always does, even as the crisis over Afghanistan deepens. Copies of the Washington Post are displayed on a desk where White House assistants work. In another area, down the hall from the Oval Office, the National Geographic is lying on top of a bookshelf. The president has always prided himself on his international background, and as a leader in foreign policy, and National Geographic fits nicely into his reading shelf. But there are signs that not everything is well here: the screaming headlines in the Washington Post, with dire headlines about Afghanistan, are the first hint. Plus, the hallways are unusually crowded, as Secret Service agents and aides gather, and wait.The president, moving on Biden time, as it is known here, plans to make remarks in the East Room, any minute now.He will try to explain how he, an experienced foreign-policy maven, managed to misjudge in such a colossal way what has happened in Kabul, and will attempt to justify his policy decisions.Those here in the West Wing, and in places around the world, are waiting.Article share tools
  10. Posted at 22:4122:41 US President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak on the situation in Afghanistan at 20:45 BST / 15:45 EDT. He has returned to the White House in Washington DC after cutting short his trip to Camp David in Maryland.
  11. Posted at 22:3522:35 Has early support for US troop withdrawal shifted? Protesters have been gathering outside the White House as pressure on Biden builds Protesters have been gathering outside the White House as pressure on Biden builds Joe Biden will speak from the White House in about 15 minutes. Before he addresses the situation in Afghanistan, let’s look at how some critics and supporters have responded to the decision to wind down America’s longest conflict. Support for US troop withdrawl from Afghanistan:
    • The US has spent trillions of dollars and lost more than 2,000 service members in 20 years of this conflict, making promises by presidents to get out popular among many Americans
    • As recently as last month, an overwhelming majority – 70% or more – supported the withdrawal, according to polls Warnings against:
  12. Posted at 22:1022:10 Merkel: ‘A bitter and dramatic Germany’s leader Angela Merkel has given a press conference following a cabinet meeting with the country’s foreign minister and interior minister. She said the Taliban had taken over Afghanistan with “breath-taking speed” and that this was a “bitter, dramatic and terrible development” particularly for the people of Afghanistan. Merkel said that people should never forget those who lost their lives during the mission, including the 59 German soldiers who died in Afghanistan.She added that the evacuation effort was the most important thing right now and of the 2,500 people, including their families, who worked with German forces, 1,900 are already back in Germany. Others are thought to be in a third country.There are a further 1,000 people who worked with German development agencies and NGOs who also need to be brought to safety, she said.Merkel said German military aircraft are on their way to Kabul but the situation there is still difficult.Article share tools
  13. Posted at 21:5821:58 Planes diverted amid chaos at Kabul airportAfghan people climb atop a plane as they wait at the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021,Getty ImagesCopyright: Getty ImagesPlanes sent to help evacuate people from Afghanistan are having to be diverted to other cities because of the upheaval at Kabul airport.Images from the Hamid Karzai International Airport show scenes of desperation and anguish, with people crowding the runways and standing on top of aircraft. Footage showed desperate Afghans trying to hang onto planes as they attempted to take off.Two Czech military planes were diverted to Baku, Azerbaijan and a German evacuation plane was forced to change course and land in Uzbekistan.The aircraft had been sent to help evacuate Czech and German nationals and Afghan colleagues from the country.All flights – military and civilian – coming in and out of the airport were suspended as of Monday evening because of the chaos, the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority said on Monday.The aviation authority said the country’s airspace had been “released to the military” and advised commercial airlines to divert flights to avoid the airspace.Article share tools
  14. Posted at 21:3821:38 Women disappear from Afghan TV Shamshad TVAfghanistan’s main TV channels are still broadcasting, but with some noticeable differences – including the disappearance of all female presenters from the screen.There has been a large increase in favourable comments on the Taliban on channels such as the state-run National Afghanistan TV and privately owned Tolo News, Ariana, Shamshad and 1TV. Little criticism of the group has been seen so far on any of them. All have refrained from airing any music or soap operas. Tolo News and 1TV have mostly been repeating programmes aired yesterday, possibly because of difficulties with their work.However, Saad Mohseni, owner of the Moby Group – which includes Tolo TV and Tolo News TV – said in a tweet: “I can assure you our folks are OK and that we have continued with our broadcasting uninterrupted throughout this ‘transition’”.Moby Group is Afghanistan’s biggest generator of entertainment and news and current affair programmes. State TV, which was taken over by the Taliban on the evening of 15 August, has largely been airing religious programmes. Shamshad TV, owned by a former presidential aide, has broadcast much pro-Taliban content. In one programme, the channel’s correspondent showed Kabul residents praising the group for bringing security and unity to the country.Article share tools
  15. Posted at 21:2621:26 Uzbekistan says 750 Afghan troops have arrived there Uzbekistan says about 750 Afghan military personnel have arrived in the country in the past 48 hours.About 600 of those were aboard Afghan military aircraft, while a further 158 troops crossed into the country on Sunday.Uzbekistan shares a narrow northern border with Afghanistan.Uzbek authorities said they forced down 46 military aircraft in the southern city of Termez. According to the Uzbek prosecutor-general’s office, one Afghan aircraft and the Uzbek fighter jet that was escorting it collided. Both pilots ejected.Video posted to social media showed an Afghan Black Hawk helicopter on the ground on what was said to be an Uzbek farm with about ten Afghan air force crew onboard.Article share tools
  16. Posted at 21:0321:03 UK to send hundreds more troops The UK is to send 200 more troops to help in the evacuation of Kabul airport, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has confirmed.It says there will soon be 900 British military personnel on the ground.A “small number” of RAF aircraft are also being diverted from other operations to assist, the MOD said.It comes as the US announced it was expanding its number of troops by 1,000 to 7,000.Article share tools
  17. Posted at 20:4320:43 US President Joe Biden has just arrived back in Washington DC, having cut short his trip to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.He’s set to make a speech in a few hours, at 20:45 BST / 15:45 EST, on the situation in Afghanistan.The White House says he has been briefed by top national security officials on the state of affairs at Kabul’s airport and the “ongoing efforts to safely evacuate American citizens, US Embassy personnel and local staff… and other vulnerable Afghans”.Joe Biden in a meeting at Camp DavidThe White House via Reuters Copyright: The White House via Reuters President Biden held meetings at Camp David, however has now cut his vacation short and returned to the White House
  18. Posted at 20:2620:26 Students fear life under TalibanTaliban fighters in Kabul EPA Copyright: EPAS tudents say they are scared of the Taliban ruleImage caption: Students say they are scared of the Taliban ruleThe BBC has been speaking to young people who are currently in Kabul.One woman described the city as “silent”. The Taliban are ruling the city and everyone is at home, she said.”I had lots of plans for my future but now I can’t go to work or university,” she added.”I don’t know what our future is like. This has made me lose hope. I want to transfer my semester out of Afghanistan to continue my life normally.”I’m just seeking for a way to get out of Afghanistan because there is no hope for women and the future.”Another resident said they were terrified to go out onto the street.”We are emotionally, psychologically in a very bad condition. We are hopeless, it is like a countdown – waiting for our turn – to be captured by them,” he said. “Everyone in here is trying to escape to another country to escape execution”.
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