President Biden claimed on Wednesday that chaos in Kabul was always on the cards, despite saying in a White House briefing just six weeks ago that a Taliban takeover was NOT inevitable.
In an interview with ABC, the president declared that the pandemonium in the Afghan capital was unavoidable and said ‘there’s no way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens.’
Yet in his July 8 briefing, Biden assured the press: ‘It is not inevitable. The likelihood of the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.’
Meanwhile, it has been widely reported that US intelligence, including information provided by the CIA, warned the Afghan army’s resistance to the Taliban would likely collapse ‘within days’ if US forces withdrew too quickly.
The Taliban now control the majority of the country, including the territory surrounding Kabul airport where they are in total control of who is allowed to access the airport for evacuation – including thousands of American citizens.
Biden had also claimed that US Embassy staff would not be ‘lifted from the roof’ in scenes reminiscent of the evacuation of Saigon in 1975, yet on Sunday August 15 the Embassy was hastily evacuated via Chinook helicopter as the Taliban descended on the capital.
In a damning interview with ABC on Wednesday August 18, Biden contradicted several of his statements made in a White House press briefing just six weeks earlier
Biden claimed Wednesday that chaos in Kabul was always on the cards despite saying on July 8 he was confident in the Afghan government and military to combat the Taliban
In his July 8 briefing, Biden assured the press: ‘It is not inevitable. The likelihood of the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.’
On the Taliban taking over Afghanistan:
August 18: ‘The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens’.
July 8: ‘The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.’
‘You have the Afghan troops at 300,000 – well equipped, as well as any army in the world – and an Air Force, against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable.’
On August 8, the Taliban took the city of Zaranj – the first provincial capital to fall in years – and by Sunday August 15 had taken the city of Jalalabad and surrounded Kabul.
They entered the capital later that day and seized the presidential palace unopposed, effectively solidifying their control of the country in just ten days after they launched their offensive for Zaranj.
Taliban fighters patrol in Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul which is now under their control with the exception of parts of Kabul airport
The Taliban turned on the crowd at Kabul airport on Tuesday, driving the hundreds back from the airport perimeter as they pushed to flee the country. They had promised to be peaceful but have already broken their offers of amnesty
An Afghan woman is seen lying on the ground after the Taliban used whips and sharp objects to drive people from the airport
On the evacuation
August 18: ‘Americans should understand that we’re going to try to get [the evacuation] done before August 31.’
‘If we don’t, we’ll determine at the time who’s left. And if you’re American force – if there’s American citizens left, we’re going to stay to get them all out’
‘It depends on where we are and whether we can get — ramp these numbers up to five to five – 7,000 a day coming out’ (per day)
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin: ‘We don’t have the capability to go out and collect up large numbers of people.’
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby: ‘I can’t tell you the numbers of people coming and going. Our force flow gets smaller as we get more troops on the field. I can’t predict how many people will be evacuated.’
July 8: ‘When I announced our drawdown in April, I said we would be out by September, and we’re on track to meet that target.’
‘Our military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on August 31st. The drawdown is proceeding in a secure and orderly way, prioritizing the safety of our troops as they depart.’
There are still around 15,000 Americans and allied citizens stranded in Afghanistan. The State Department updated its guidance to tell all remaining US citizens to make their way to the airport but it couldn’t guarantee anyone’s safety on the journey.
Taliban forces have surrounded the airport and set up checkpoints. They are in control of who is allowed to enter the airport.
Thousands of Afghan civilians are attempting to climb the walls of the airport to be evacuated but are being shot and beaten by Taliban forces as US and western countries continue to fly rescue operations out of Kabul
Only 6,000 people have been evacuated since August 14 despite US and allied aircraft operating dozens of flights. 50,000 people are thought to be outside the airport perimeter attempting to enter, but are being beaten back by the Taliban
Hundreds of Afghan civilians squeezed into a C-17 US air force plane over the weekend to be evacuated, while hundreds more attempted to cling to planes in an attempt to be lifted out of the country
Several people were killed on Monday attempting to hold onto the fuselage or landing gear of an American C-17 aircraft as it departed. Three fell to their deaths, while others were ran over by the taxiing plane and one man was crushed in the landing gear as it was retracted
On the Embassy
July 8: ‘There’s going to be no circumstance when you’re going to see people being lifted off the roof of an Embassy. It’s not at all comparable [with Saigon].
‘I intend to maintain our diplomatic presedence [presence] in Afghanistan.’
The US Embassy was closed with ambassadors, diplomats and the Embassy flag hastily evacuated from the roof by Chinook helicopter on Sunday August 15, as Taliban forces entered the capital.
Taliban fighters now control checkpoints outside the embassy which were previously manned by US troops as recently as last week
A Chinook helicopter was filmed flying above the US Embassy in Kabul to evacuate ambassadors and diplomats in scenes reminiscent of the evacuation of Saigon in 1975 as the North Vietnamese Army closed in
A forlorn soldier clutches the hastily rolled American embassy flag as it is loaded onto US air force transport and flown out of Afghanistan
Taliban fighters are now standing guard at a checkpoints outside the US Embassy that were manned by American troops as recently as last week
On the Afghan Army
August 18: ‘When you saw the significant collapse of the Afghan troops we had trained, that was — you know I’m not — that’s what happened. That’s simply what happened.’
Biden also said on August 16: ‘The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.’
‘Do I trust the Taliban? No. But I trust the capacity of the Afghan military, who is better trained, better equipped, and more re- — more competent in terms of conducting war.’
July 8: ‘We have trained and equipped nearly 300,000 current serving members of the military – of the Afghan National Security Force, and many beyond that who are no longer serving.’
‘Add to that, hundreds of thousands more Afghan National Defense and Security Forces trained over the last two decades. ‘We provided our Afghan partners with all the tools — let me emphasize: all the tools, training, and equipment of any modern military. We provided advanced weaponry. And we’re going to continue to provide funding and equipment.’
The Afghan army collapsed under the onslaught of the Taliban, with much of the 300,000-strong force abandoning their weapons to flee.
The Afghan army crumbled under the Taliban offensive with many of the 300,000-strong US-trained force abandoning their weapons and fleeing. Reports say the Taliban faced little resistance in their surge to power which took less than two weeks
On Afghan translators:
August 18: ‘The estimate we’re giving is 65,000 folks total. The commitment holds to get everyone out that in fact we can get out and everyone that should come out’
July 8: ‘We can guarantee their safety.
‘We’re going to continue to make sure that we take on the Afghan nationals who work side-by-side with U.S. forces, including interpreters and translators, so their families are not exposed to danger as well.’
65,000 is more than four times the number of American citizens that are stranded in Afghanistan, none of whom have been guaranteed safe passage out of the country, and there are many reports of Afghan allies who say they cannot gain access to the airport without being confronted by the Taliban.
Ex-US soldiers have said the lives of Afghans who helped the US are in grave danger.
Former soldier James Garafalo said yesterday that his Afghan interpreter, nicknamed Rambo, will likely be executed by the Taliban before he can be evacuated.
Ex-US soldier James Garafalo pictured with his Afghan interpreter, nicknamed ‘Rambo’, who Garafalo fears will be executed by the Taliban before he can be rescued
Garafalo labelled the US’ handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan ‘a failure’ and said ‘when the US left Afghanistan, they left him to fend for himself. If the Taliban or ISIS find out that he has been working for Americans, he’s dead.’
On the Afghan government
August 18: ‘You had the government of Afghanistan, the leader of that government, get in a plane and taking off and going to another country.’
July 8: ‘The Afghan government and leadership has to come together. They clearly have the capacity to sustain the government in place. It’s not a question of whether they have the capacity. They have the capacity. They have the forces. They have the equipment.
‘And I want to make clear what I made clear to Ghani: that we are not going just sus- — walk away and not sustain their ability to maintain that force.’
President Ghani fled the country last week, reportedly with millions of dollars stuffed into his plane.
Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar has declared victory and an end to the decades-long war in Afghanistan after his fighters occupied the presidential palace in Kabul, while Ghani seeks refuge in Abu Dhabi according to the United Arab Emirates government.
President Ashraf Ghani (pictured March 2021) reportedly fled the country in a plane with millions of dollars and is currently in Abu Dhabi according to the UAE authorities
Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar has declared victory and an end to the decades-long war in Afghanistan after his fighters occupied the presidential palace in Kabul