With the Taliban poised to regain power in Afghanistan, President Biden has defended his decision to leave the country after two decades of US military involvement.
In a statement on Saturday, Biden said the United States has invested nearly $1 trillion in Afghanistan over the past 20 years and has trained and equipped more than 300,000 Afghan security forces, including maintaining the Asian country’s air force.
“An additional five years or so from the US military presence would have made no difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not keep its own country,” Biden said. “And an endless American presence in the midst of a civil conflict in another country was not acceptable to me.”
Biden’s statement came hours after the Taliban captured Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, but before the group captured the eastern city of Jalalabad on Sunday. The group entered Kabul, the capital, on Sunday as President Ashraf Ghani fled.
Biden partially blamed President Donald J. Trump for the unfolding disaster in Afghanistan, saying the 2020 deal with the Taliban had set a May 1 deadline this year for the withdrawal of US troops and the group.” in the strongest military position since 2001.”
“I was faced with a choice: push through the deal, with a short extension to get our troops and our allies’ troops out safely, or step up our presence and send more American troops to fight again in another’s civil conflict. country,” he said. said Biden.
This year, a Congress-appointed study group urged the Biden administration to drop the May 1 deadline and delay the withdrawal of US troops. Pentagon officials made similar pleas, but Biden maintained his long-held position that it was time for Afghanistan to fend for itself.
Since international forces began to withdraw in May, the Taliban have pursued their military takeover much faster than US intelligence agencies had anticipated. On Saturday, Biden accelerated the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to help ensure the safe evacuation of US citizens and Afghans working for the US government from Kabul.
On Sunday, it was decided to send another 1,000, temporarily bringing the number of US troops in the country to 6,000.
In his statement, Biden warned the Taliban that “any action on the ground on their part in Afghanistan that endangers US personnel or our mission there will be met with a swift and strong US military response.”