The extraordinary meeting held this Tuesday by the G7 has been a desperate attempt to save the ongoing evacuation of thousands of foreigners and Afghans in vulnerable situations. The leaders of the seven richest countries in the world (the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan) have tried to agree a common position on repatriation, impossible due to Washington’s insistence on maintaining its calendar of 31 December. August, but also on those derived from the Afghan crisis, the first of which will be the dialogue with the Taliban, or the new migratory crisis in the making. Events are cascading over the ground, and what until Monday was a deadline, an operational deadline, became an ultimatum after the Taliban warned that they would not allow any further departures from Kabul airport after 31 December. August. The G7 has not agreed, except in the diplomatic formula of asking the Taliban to guarantee the exit after that date, and the ball remains in the roof of the new authorities in Kabul, while the most powerful club in the world shows its seams.
The Europeans, resigned to the insistence of the US to stick to their plans, are therefore trying to transfer the pressure to the Taliban: the bearded men will have to guarantee the exit of Afghans who wish to do so through third countries if they aspire to receive humanitarian aid, which it will be coordinated by the UN, in addition to committing to observe human rights before even considering its legitimacy before the international community. The G7 claims to be willing to work in the Central Asian country with its allies and with third countries, through the UN and the G20, but has not been able to convince Joe Biden to extend the exit deadline. For the democrat, giving in to his G7 partners would have been tantamount to pleading with the Taliban, with the image of humiliation that this entails.
“President Biden has decided, in consultation with his national security team, to stick to the August 31 deadline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan,” a senior administration official told CNN on Tuesday. “Biden has made this decision aware of the security risks that exist right now” in Kabul, added the source, qualifying however that Biden has asked the Pentagon for “contingency plans” for a possible extension in the event that the Taliban don’t cooperate.
The compromise solution, insufficient for countries that such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany had asked for an extension, was presented by the British Prime Minister and host of the meeting, Boris Johnson, warning the Taliban that they must “pass the passage safely ”To all those who want to leave the country after August 31st. To elaborate on the feeling of fiasco derived from the summit, his Italian counterpart, Mario Draghi, pointed out that European countries do not have a common position on the new migratory flow caused by the collapse of Afghanistan, but that, in the rest of the matters, the club hopes to have the help of regional powers (Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and India), in addition to Turkey, which aspired to manage the airport and is not closed to a collaboration with the new regime. German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed an evacuation “by civil route” to avoid further chaos at Kabul airport after August 31. Canadian Justin Trudeau confirmed the purpose of the G7 to “save as many people as possible” in Afghanistan.
Johnson nonetheless presented the results of the meeting as an achievement. “What we have done today, the G7, is that we have … agreed not only on a joint approach to deal with the evacuation, but also on a roadmap for our future relationship with the Taliban,” he said. .
The date that Biden had foreseen for the withdrawal of the troops – in advance, since in principle the deployment was going to end on September 11 – has ended up becoming a noose around the neck of the Western foreign ministries. Countries with a presence in Afghanistan have evacuated about 60,000 people in the last ten days, but there are still thousands at the airport, waiting to leave. Amid frenzied movements on the ground, and a growing escalation of violence, the palpable risk of repatriation derailing if the West and the Taliban fail to reach a deal is increasing with each passing hour. Biden, the target of criticism for managing the withdrawal from Afghanistan, has once again found himself cornered between demands by G7 partners to stretch the timetable and the ultimatum from the Taliban. Pleasing his allies without having to humiliate himself in front of the bearded men was the difficult position presented to the Democrat.
The doubts and the different demands around the calendar today caused a cataract of contradictory messages. The Pentagon indicated that it continues to consider August 31 as the maximum date to complete the departure of its troops and the evacuation of the Americans and their Afghan collaborators. NATO sources spoke in the same vein. According to an official of the Alliance quoted by Reuters, “each member of the foreign forces is working in forced marches to meet the deadline,” he said.
Others, however, such as Democrat Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, have expressed doubts about the completion of evacuation plans on the date set by Washington. “It is possible but I think highly unlikely, given the number of Americans still to be evacuated,” Schiff said. Also Democrat Jason Crow, veteran of Afghanistan, also raised the convenience of expanding the limit: “If we are not willing to use the Army to protect US citizens, our partners and friends, then why are we going to use it? ? ”. The Republican opposition expressed itself in similar terms. Its Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, urged Biden to “forget” the deadline and extend the security perimeter around the Kabul airport to evacuate all US citizens. Unsuccessful, like the alleged consensus within the G7.