This is Joe Biden’s first international crisis and it is going badly. The Democratic administration was taken aback by the surprise conquest of Afghanistan by the Taliban, as the fall of Kabul appears imminent. A few weeks ago, the Americans were hoping that a partially negotiated solution would be possible with the Taliban. In fact, the sole priority now is to evacuate some 10,000 American citizens and their Afghan collaborators and allies. The announced capture of Kabul looks like the fall of Saigon in 1975, when the pro-American regime lost to communist North Vietnam. But that fall came two years after the US withdrawal, while the Taliban’s conquest took only a few weeks.
The American president, who is increasing the number of crisis meetings in the presidential retreat of Camp David, near Washington, now has as an almost sole priority the evacuation of his nationals. “I have authorized the deployment of approximately 5,000 US troops to ensure that we can proceed with an orderly and safe withdrawal of US personnel (…), as well as an orderly and safe evacuation of the Afghans who assisted our troops ”, wrote Joe Biden in a statement released Saturday, August 14. The 5,000 soldiers include the 3,000 American infantry troops whose reinforcements were announced last week, as well as 1,000 other soldiers already stationed in Kabul. Mr. Biden’s announcement on Saturday therefore means the actual dispatch of 1,000 additional troops from the Persian Gulf.
According to New York Times, the Americans are asking the Taliban for a delay. A senior American official said that Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief American negotiator with the Taliban in the peace talks in Doha, Qatar, had asked the extremist group not to enter Kabul until the United States not finished evacuating. (…) It was not known how quickly the evacuations could be carried out or if it was even possible ”, writes the New York daily, which adds that Taliban officials responded by demanding that the United States cease air strikes against its fighters.
Reduced to threatening the Taliban, Mr. Biden specifies in his statement that he informed their representatives in Doha that “Any action on their part on the ground in Afghanistan which would endanger American personnel or our mission there will be[it] to a rapid and strong American military response ”.
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