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Amid backlash, Biden defends decision to withdraw from Afghanistan

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Washington DC: US President Joe Biden has defended his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, days after severe criticism over the move that led to the Taliban’s rapid advance and victory. Biden broke his silence on Monday in a public address on the issue.

He said he stood “squarely behind” his decision to withdraw the US troops from Afghanistan despite the chaos in the country that had enjoyed US protection for several years.

Biden blamed the current situation on the failure of the Afghan soldiers to fight back the Taliban and political leaders who fled the country.

With the Taliban entering Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani had fled to an unknown destination.

That also brought the collapse of a tentative deal between Afghan and Taliban negotiators for a two-week ceasefire in return for Ghani’s resignation.  It is unlikely that the insurgent group will be ready for any negotiation or power-sharing deal now that they already have control over almost the entire country.

In his address, Biden warned the Taliban leaders of “devastating force” if they interfered with the US pullout. The US had sent reinforcements to facilitate safe exit of its citizens as well as Afghans who worked for it.

The US troops had been present in Afghanistan for 20 years before they were asked to return.

“I stand squarely behind my decision,” Biden said in his speech. “After 20 years I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces. That’s why we’re still there.”

He added that he did not start moving out evacuees sooner because Afghan President Ashraf Ghani did not want a mass exodus. He admitted that he found some of the scenes of chaos in Kabul gut-wrenching.

Blaming the Afghan administration, he said, “Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military gave up, sometimes without trying to fight.”

The US president added that the withdrawal was also because of his commitment to the American troops that he would not ask them to continue risking their lives for a war that should have ended long ago.

 

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On Monday, President Biden approved a $500 million aid from the emergency fund for the “unexpected” refugee situation that had arisen because of the Afghanistan crisis. This included Afghan special immigration visa applicants, according to the White House

 

 

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