The US withdraws its last soldiers and ends its longest war after rescuing more than 120,000 people
The United States ended its longest war on Monday night, declared in response to the 9/11 attacks. In their final hours in Afghanistan, the US Armed Forces rush to evacuate refugees and diplomats from Afghanistan, in addition to the last 300 US civilians who had requested evacuation before the full withdrawal, scheduled for midnight August 31-August 1. September.
The Taliban have given assurances to the international community that they will allow those who want to leave the country to do so, as the White House and its allies have revealed in a statement, but the United Nations has warned of an imminent unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Since the Taliban returned to power in mid-August, the United States has extracted about 120,000 people from Afghanistan in the largest airlift in American war history. An attack by Daesh (Islamic State) has killed 170 civilians and thirteen American soldiers of the Marine Corps, and the United States has responded with two attacks with missiles launched from unmanned aircraft, known as drones.
Among the evacuees there are approximately 6,000 US citizens. Of the remainder, the White House expects that some 50,000 Afghans who have worked for the US armed forces in the 20 years of war will be welcomed as refugees within the United States. Humanitarian organizations estimate that more than 200,000 Afghans who assisted US troops in the two decades of war will be left to their fate.
The withdrawal has become the most serious crisis for Joe Biden, who in just one month has lost 5% of his popularity rating. The president’s approval has plummeted from 52% to 47% according to an average of polls conducted by FiveThirtyEight. He’s still more popular than Donald Trump at this point in his term, but less than Barack Obama. For its part, the Pentagon has tried to shield Kabul airport in recent hours.
At its peak, there have been 5,800 uniformed Americans deployed to the airport in the Afghan capital. On Monday, the US Armed Forces reported that hours earlier a missile defense system had detected an attack with five projectiles and had neutralized them, preventing another massacre. President Biden is informed daily of the evacuation and these security threats, according to the White House.
On Sunday the president received the coffins of the soldiers killed in Kabul at the Dover air base. Several family members were absent in protest, criticizing the haste of the withdrawal and the mistakes that in their understanding facilitated the deadly attack by the Islamic State. The White House spokeswoman declined on Monday to give details of that meeting of Biden with the families of the deceased soldiers. He said the president is deeply affected by those deaths but has no regrets for ordering a withdrawal from Afghanistan. “The president stands by his decision to return home the men and women on the ground in Afghanistan, because the alternative would be to return tens of thousands or at least thousands of soldiers there, to put themselves in danger to fight for something for which the The Afghan Army itself does not fight, ”Jen Psaki said at a press conference on Monday.
The Afghan army surrendered to the Taliban and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country hours after they reached Kabul. Nearly 2,500 American soldiers, in addition to 43,000 civilians, have died in this two-decade mission, according to a study by Brown University.
The Pentagon confirmed, before the official announcement of the march, that the exit will be completed when it dawns on September 1, although some US citizens remain on the ground. The Biden Administration has said, including the president himself, that there are several Americans who do not want to leave the country, even though the Taliban have returned to power.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said yesterday at a press conference that if these citizens want to leave after the military withdrawal, they will be assisted through diplomatic means. “There will be no military support in these efforts,” Kirby warned. It is not yet clear whether Washington will have diplomatic relations with the Taliban.
For now, all US diplomats will leave Kabul, but the truth is that there has been bilateral dialogue in the past months. First, because Trump authorized it in 2019 to facilitate the withdrawal, and then because Biden has asked the Islamists for help to complete this massive evacuation operation. Last week’s attack was carried out by the Islamic State, an enemy of the Taliban. The United Nations on Monday called on the international community to maintain pressure on Islamists once the US withdrawal ends this week.
For the rest, the coalition to combat Daesh (Islamic State), led by the United States, issued a statement yesterday in which it affirms that it will continue to fight the jihadists after the withdrawal from Afghanistan. According to the members, they will use “military, intelligence, diplomatic, economic and law enforcement power to ensure the defeat of this brutal terrorist organization.”