President Joe Biden on Tuesday said the troop withdrawal from Kabul that left 13 US service members dead was an ‘extraordinary success’ and blamed Donald Trump and local soldiers for the mess in Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover.
A defiant Biden said the operation couldn’t have been done in a ‘more orderly manner’ and ‘respectfully disagreed’ with critics who said he should have started the evacuation sooner to avoid the chaos.
The president also hailed the 120,000 people they have gotten to safety in ‘one of the biggest airlifts in history’, vowed to keep working to get Afghan allies out and said the State Department had reached out to stranded Americans 19 times since March asking if they wanted to leave.
Biden spoke passionately as he defended his actions, at times waving his arms and gripping the podium, amid intense criticism from Democrats, many Republicans and fellow world leaders about his handling of the U.S. drawdown.
Eleven Marines, a Special Forces member and a Navy Corpsman were all killed in the ISIS-K suicide attack last Thursday as US forces frantically tried to get people on evacuation flights before the August 31 deadline.
Thousands of local allies and at least 100 U.S. citizens are still stuck and facing threats from the Taliban. Afghans desperate to leave ran after US planes on the tarmac and two fell out of the skies to their deaths in a bid to escape the rule of the insurgents.
In the lengthy remarks, where he refused to take shouted questions from reporters, Biden argued the world was changing and brought up his late son Beau, an Iraq War veteran who died of brain cancer. He cited cyber threats from Russia and China as among the modern concerns America must face.
‘Let me be clear. Leaving August 31 is not due to an arbitrary deadline. It was designed to save American lives,’ Biden said in his first public remarks since the final US soldier left Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday night.
The Taliban celebrated the American withdraw by hosting mock funerals with coffins draped with the US, UK and French flags as well as NATO’s insignia. They launched fireworks into the Kabul skyline and flaunted the American weapons and equipment they obtained that U.S. military personnel left behind.
August 31 was the deadline Biden set earlier this year and stuck to despite pleas from some Democratic lawmakers who were veterans and his fellow world leaders, who used a G7 virtual meeting to plead with him to keep boots on the ground longer.
But Biden argued Trump, his predecessor in the Oval Office, tied his hands on the matter. He noted Trump signed a deal with the Taliban to leave by May 1 and that shackled his options.
‘My predecessor, the former president, signed an agreement with the Taliban to remove U.S. troops by May 1, just months after I was inaugurated,’ he said.
He said that agreement allowed the release of 5,000 prisoners last year. ‘including some of the Taliban’s top war commanders among those that just took control of Afghanistan.’
‘By the time I came to office, the Taliban was in its strongest military position since 2001,’ Biden said.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday said the US troop withdrawal from Kabul was an ‘extraordinary success’ and blamed Donald Trump and local soldiers for the chaos in Afghanistan
Thirteen members of the US military were killed in an ISIS-K suicide attack last Thursday as US forces frantically tried to get people on evacuation flights. Afghans desperate to leave ran after US planes on the tarmac and two fell out of the skies to their deaths in a bid to escape the rule of the insurgents
He painted the decision to leave as a ‘simple’ one: ‘Either follow-through on the commitment made by the last administration and leave Afghanistan or say we weren’t leaving and commit another tens of thousands more troops going back to war. That was the choice, the real choice.’
‘I was not going to extend the war,’ Biden said, his voice rising as he spoke.
He defended specific criticism he faced, including questions about the remaining Americans – estimated between 100 to 200 – still in Afghanistan.
He vowed to bring them home.
‘For those remaining Americans, there is no deadline. We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out,’ he said. Biden told ABC News earlier this month he wouldn’t remove U.S. troops until all Americans were home.
He also defended the evacuation after last week’s suicide bombing killed 13 U.S. service members and hundreds of Afghan allies.
‘We completed one of the biggest airlifts in history with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety.’
He also blamed the Afghan leaders for not doing their part.
He conceded that he under estimated how long the Afghan government would hang on. The Taliban essentially took control of the country on August 15.
‘The assumption was that more than 300,000 Afghan national security forces that we had trained over the past two decades and equipped would be a strong adversary in their civil wars with the Taliban. That assumption that the Afghan government would hold on for a period of time beyond military draw down turned out not to be accurate,’ he admitted.
There are reports the Taliban harsh rule has returned. A top Afghan female cop is on the run after suffering a ‘brutal beating’ from them. She was singled out by the Taliban as a target at the gates outside Hamid Karzai international airport in Kabul, where she spent five nights attempting to secure a place on an evacuation flight.
The president pushed back against critics who said the evacuation should have started sooner. He said it would have been chaos no matter when it started.
‘I respectfully disagree. Imagine if we begun an evacuation in June or July, bringing thousands of American troops and evacuating more than 120,000 people in the middle of a civil war. There still would have been a rush to the airport. A breakdown of confidence and control of the government and still would have been very difficult and dangerous mission. The bottom line is, there’s no evacuation from the end of a war that you can run without the kinds of complexities and challenges and threats we faced, none,’ he said.
He paid tribute to the ‘selfless courage’ displayed by U.S. service members and diplomatic staff for evacuating Americans and Afghan allies from Kabul.
They ‘did their job and did it well,’ Biden said.
The president mentioned his trip to Dover over the weekend to witness the return of the service member remains and meet with families. But the White House has refused to discuss the conversations. And there are reports some family members were angry with the president.
Mark Schmitz, the father of Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, told The Washington Post that he showed a picture of his son to Biden and told the president: ‘Don’t you ever forget that name. Don’t you ever forget that face. Don’t you ever forget the names of the other 12. And take some time to learn their stories.’
He recalled that Biden didn’t seem to like those comments.
‘I do know their stories,’ Schmitz detailed that the president shot back.
Schmitz also said that a sister of a fallen troop yelled at the president after receiving the remains on Sunday: ‘I hope you burn in hell! That was my brother!’
Families of the fallen U.S. service members were left disappointed by Joe Biden at the dignified transfer on Sunday. One sister of a fallen Marine yelled at the president: ‘I hope you burn in hell! That was my brother!’
Biden will now have to rely on cooperation with the Taliban (pictured in Kabul on Tuesday) to try and get the remaining Afghan allies and American citizens out
Biden also argued the world was different since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan nearly 20 years ago, shortly after the September 11th attacks.
He said there are new threats America has to deal with.
‘We succeeded in what we set out to do in Afghanistan over a decade ago. We stayed for another decade. It was time to end this war. This is a new world,’ he said.
‘The world is changing. We’re engaged in a serious competition with China. We’re dealing with the challenges on multiple fronts with Russia. We’re confronted with cyber attacks and nuclear proliferation,’ he said.
‘We can do both, fight terrorism and take on new threats that are here now and we’ll continue to be here in the future. There’s nothing China or Russia rather that, would want more in this competition that on the United States to be bogged down another decade in Afghanistan,’ he added.
Biden’s speech, originally scheduled for 1:30 p.m., was pushed back to 2:45 p.m. and then began shortly before 3:30 p.m.
And Tuesday’s speech doesn’t mark the end of the Afghan conundrum for the president.
He has to deal with the Taliban take over of the country and relocation of thousands of Afghan refugees in the months to come.
Additionally, Republicans are expected to make it a political issue in the 2022 midterms.
And the president’s approval rating has taken a nose dive in the wake of the Afghanistan evacuation and withdrawal. Only 38% of Americans approved of his handling of the situation, according to a ABC News/Ipsos survey released Sunday.
The situation also has hurt Biden’s campaign argument that he should be elected for his competence and experience. Some Democrats, many Republicans and foreign allies had pleaded with him to extend the August 31st deadline but the administration argued it would not make a significant difference on the ground there.
Meanwhile, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told ABC’s Good Morning America that the U.S. intends to continue sending health, food and other forms of humanitarian aid to the Afghan people.
He also said that other forms of cash aid, including economic and developmental assistance, would depend on whether the Taliban ‘follow through on their commitments’ including to allow safe passage for Americans still in Afghanistan.
‘It’s going to be up to them and we will wait and see by their actions how we end up responding in terms of the economic and developmental assistance,’ he said.
Sullivan insisted that any aid would flow through ‘international institutions’ and not directly to the Taliban, however the militant group is now in full control of the country’s government and banking system.
The US Army then released a nightvision image of Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and the ground commander of the Kabul evacuation, boarding a plane as the last U.S. soldier to leave Afghanistan
The diplomats above, including Amb. Ross Wilson, were some of the last to leave Kabul as the embassy closed out of Afghanistan and transferred its mission to Qatar
One of the last US Air Force aircraft takes off from the airport in Kabul on August 30
A crowd carries makeshift coffins draped in NATO’s, U.S. and a Union Jack flags during a mock funeral on a street in Khost, Afghanistan on Tuesday taunting Western forces after their withdrawal
Biden abandons Afghan interpreter who RESCUED him when his Blackhawk was forced to land in a snowstorm in 2008: Translator asked president to save him from the Taliban
The Afghan interpreter who helped rescue President Biden from a remote Afghan valley in 2008 has been left behind after the last US evacuation flight took off on Monday, according to a report.
Mohammed, while working for the US Army, had a key role in a story often repeated – and embellished – by Biden during his 2008 run for vice president.
As senator, Biden was on board one of two Blackhawk helicopters that made an emergency landing in a blinding snowstorm, alongside then-Sens. John Kerry D-Mass., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.
Mohammed is one of the thousands of SIV applicants left behind. There were 88,000 SIV applicants and as of last week only 6,000 had gotten out.
Then-Senators Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Chuck Hagel in Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan, February 20, 2008
Kerry, left, is seen with Biden, right, during their visiting to the governor’s office in Asad Abad, the provincial capital of Kunar province east of Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008
A private security team with the former firm Blackwater and US Army soldiers stood watch for Taliban fighters as the crew called Bagram Air Base for help, where Mohammed jumped in a Humvee along with a force from the 82nd Airborne Division and drove hours into the mountains to rescue them.
The three senators were driven back to the base with the convoy.
‘Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family,’ Mohammed said, according to the Wall Street Journal. ‘Don’t forget me here.’
‘I can’t leave my house,’ he said on Tuesday. ‘I’m very scared.’
Mohammed’s visa application reportedly stalled when the defense contractor he worked for lost records needed for his visa application. As the Taliban seized control on Aug. 15, Mohammed tried his luck at the Kabul airport gates but was turned away by US forces. They told him he could go but he’d have to leave behind his wife and children.
US soldiers say Mohammed was there alongside them for over 100 firefights.
The area of the rescue was not under Taliban control, but just one day before the three then-senators’ choppers went down, Taliban had killed nearly two dozen Taliban insurgents just 10 miles away.
‘We were going to send Biden out to fight the Taliban with snowballs, but we didn’t have to do it,’ Kerry joked after the senators’ rescue.
The trip was one of many that Biden, then chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took overseas with Kerry and Hagel, who went on to become secretaries of state and defense respectively under President Obama.
In a speech on the campaign trail, Biden said in 2008: ‘If you want to know where Al Qaeda lives, you want to know where (Usama) bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me. Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down with a three-star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are.’
‘It’s in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan,’ he said, ‘where my helicopter was recently forced down.’
Army veterans have stepped in on Mohammed’s behalf to call for help. ‘If you can only help one Afghan, choose [Mohammed],’ wrote Shawn O’Brien, an Army combat veteran who worked with him in Afghanistan in 2008. ‘He earned it.’
The US has evacuated over 120,000 from Taliban rule since Aug. 14, including 5,500 Americans, but left behind somewhere between 100 and 200 Americans and thousands of Afghan interpreters who worked with the US military in its hasty exit.
The State Department has promised to use all diplomatic channels to continue evacuations without a troop or embassy presence.
A White House official declined to comment on Mohammed’s case for confidentiality reasons.
On the first day in Afghanistan without the Americans, coffins draped with the US, UK and French flags as well as NATO’s insignia were paraded through the streets of Khost on Tuesday by crowds waving the Taliban’s flag.
Fireworks lit up the sky and celebratory gunfire rattled as the final American troops left on Monday night.
In Kandahar – a traditional Taliban stronghold – thousands also turned out waving white Taliban flags to celebrate what the group is referring to as its ‘independence day’, hours after the final American troops boarded an evacuation flight out of the country.
On Monday, the United States withdrew from Afghanistan, marking the end of a 20-year occupation that cost over $2 trillion and claimed the lives of more than 170,000, including 2,356 US military deaths.
The White House says that since 2002 the US has poured $36 billion in civilian assistance, including $787 million specifically intended to support Afghan women and girls, and nearly $3.9 billion in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
Between the years 2013 and 2018, nearly $300 billion in U.S. taxpayer money flowed as aid to other countries, according to watchdog group OpenThe Books.com.
Afghanistan is now fully under the control of the Taliban.
‘This victory belongs to us all,’ said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid from the tarmac of the Hamid Karzai International Airport, where the last American plane departed.
Taliban special forces fighters arrive inside the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. military’s withdrawal
Afghanistan is now fully under the control of the Taliban – above Taliban soldiers in Kabul
The Taliban take control of Hamid Karzai International Airport after the completion of the U.S. withdrawal
The Harmid Karzai International airport in Kabul after the Taliban take over
Afghan refugees arrive at Dulles International Airport in Virginia
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Monday evening there are between 100-200 Americans left in Afghanistan who want to leave.
‘We believe there are still a small number of Americans, under 200 and likely closer to 100, who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave,’ he said.
The Pentagon said Monday that more than 122,000 people, including 5,400 Americans, have been evacuated since July.
There are no American diplomats left in Afghanistan and the State Department has moved its diplomatic mission in the country to Doha, Qatar.
He also blamed stranded Americans for waiting until the last minute after the last US jets left the country, despite President Biden promising to stay until all Americans were evacuated.
In an MSNBC interview, Kirby said the military would no longer play a role in helping them get out but was confident diplomatic efforts would be enough – and said the desperate situation was ‘not completely unlike’ others around the world.
‘We have Americans that get stranded in countries all the time,’ he said bluntly.
The United States ended its presence in Afghanistan on Monday, marking the end of a nearly 20 years in the country.
The final C-17, with the call sign MOOSE 88, lifted off from Hamid Karzai International Airport at 3:29 pm East Coast time, after the clock in Kabul clicked past midnight, making it August 31st there.
Biden TURNED DOWN Taliban offer to let America secure all of Kabul after President Ashraf Ghani fled country, report claims
The Biden administration refused an offer by the Taliban’s co-founder to take control of the security across all of Kabul before the chaotic evacuation because the president was determined to keep his promise to pull US troops out, according to a report.
Senior US military officials including Gen. Kenneth McKenzie hastily met face-to-face with Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the Taliban’s military wing, who made the US a weighty offer, as reported by the Washington Post.
‘We have a problem,’ Baradar said, according to a US official. ‘We have two options to deal with it: You [the United States military] take responsibility for securing Kabul or you have to allow us to do it.’
But Biden was determined to keep his promise of a full withdrawal, even with the collapse of the Afghan government. So, McKenzie and other military officials said the US only needed control of the airport until Aug. 31 and the Taliban could secure the city.
If the Biden administration had taken control of the whole city, they could have evacuated thousands more Afghan allies and avoided Taliban roadblocks that stopped people getting to the airport.
The fleeing of President Ashraf Ghani left both the US and the Taliban in shock, as they had reportedly been in talks for an orderly transition of power from Ghani to the Islamist group.
Ghani had reportedly received faulty intelligence that Taliban fighters were going room to room in the presidential palace looking for him. In reality, the Taliban had said it was encroaching on Kabul but would honor the peaceful transfer agreement.
With Ghani’s departure, chaos broke out in the streets of Kabul. The Taliban had never planned to take control of Kabul on Aug. 15, according to the report, but did so to establish order.
‘The government has left all of their ministries; you have to enter the city to prevent further disorder and protect public property and services from chaos,’ read a message to Taliban commander Muhammad Nasir Haqqani.
‘We couldn’t control our emotions, we were so happy. Most of our fighters were crying,’ Haqqani said of when his soldiers overtook the streets. ‘We never thought we would take Kabul so quickly.’
At the same time, the Taliban freed between 5,000 and 7,000 of its most hardened fighters imprisoned at Bagram Air Base on Aug. 15. The prison, Pul-e-Charkhi, contained a maximum security cell block for al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners.
Afghan government troops surrendered control of the base without a fight after the US handed it over to them in July.
Asked at a briefing Monday if it was true that the Taliban had offered US control of Kabul, White House press secretary Jen Psaki replied: ‘I have not seen this reporting.’
DailyMail.com has reached out to the White House for comment on the report.
But White House chief of staff Ron Klain seemed to hint at its accuracy. He like a tweet along with an opinion piece from Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall arguing: ‘No. We were right not to take over security in Kabul when the Taliban asked if we wanted to.’
‘The idea that a few thousand US Marines or soldiers could take over security for a city of 5 million during a process of state collapse is frankly insane,’ the editorial argues.
Taliban fighters sit at the table inside the presidential office at the palace in Kabul on Sunday after claiming victory
9/11, the first CIA missions, the SEAL mission that killed Bin Laden and the Kabul suicide attack that killed 13 Marines: How America’s longest war unfolded over 20 years
The United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan late Monday, ending America´s longest war and closing a chapter in military history likely to be remembered for colossal failures, unfulfilled promises and a frantic final exit that cost the lives of more than 180 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members, some barely older than the war.
Hours ahead of President Biden’s Tuesday deadline for shutting down a final airlift, and thus ending the U.S. war, Air Force transport planes carried a remaining contingent of troops from Kabul airport. Thousands of troops had spent a harrowing two weeks protecting a hurried and risky airlift of tens of thousands of Afghans, Americans and others seeking to escape a country once again ruled by Taliban militants.
September 11, 2001
U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is triggered by the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York that killed 2,977 people.
The plot to fly two planes into each tower of the World Trade Center was concocted in Afghanistan by the al Qaeda militant group, led by Osama bin Laden, who was in Afghanistan under Taliban protection.
October 7, 2001
U.S. forces begin air campaign with strikes on Taliban and al Qaeda forces. Small numbers of U.S. special forces and CIA agents soon slip into Afghanistan to help direct the bombing campaign and organize Afghan opposition forces. the Taliban would swiftly be toppled, however, with no major U.S. combat deployment on the ground.
November 13, 2001
U.S.-backed Northern Alliance forces enter Kabul as the Taliban withdraw south. Within a month, Taliban leaders have fled from southern Afghanistan into Pakistan.
U.S. forces bomb the Tora Bora cave complex in eastern Afghanistan where bin Laden is reported to be hiding, but he slips over the border into Pakistan, where he disappears.
May 2, 2003
U.S. officials declare an end to major combat operations in Afghanistan. Under President George W. Bush, the U.S. focus turns to preparing for the invasion of Iraq, which required a diversion of U.S. troops, equipment, and intelligence collection from Afghanistan. That allows the Taliban to slowly regroup, at first in the south and east.
With U.S. forces mainly fighting a surge campaign in Iraq, only a much smaller contingent is deployed in Afghanistan. The Taliban launch major advances threatening to recapture swaths of territory, especially in the south. In response, an enlarged NATO mission brings thousands more troops, notably British forces, hundreds of whom are killed in intense battles against the Taliban in Helmand province.
February 17, 2009
As Washington draws down in Iraq, newly inaugurated President Barack Obama decides to ramp up the force in Afghanistan. In his first major military decision as commander in chief, he orders in 17,000 more combat troops to reinforce 38,000 U.S. troops and 32,000 from some 40 NATO allies already on the ground. Later that year, with generals recommending a ‘surge’ campaign similar to the one waged in Iraq in 2006-2007, Obama would order an even larger buildup. The U.S. contingent would exceed 100,000 by the middle of 2010, carrying out extensive counter-insurgency operations across the country.
May 1, 2011
Bin Laden is killed in a raid by U.S. forces in Pakistan. A team of Navy SEALS raided the compound where he had been hiding in the middle of the night and he was shot dead. It ended an intense manhunt for the architect of the worst domestic terrorist attack on U.S. soil that reshaped foreign and domestic policy for decades.
U.S. officials say U.S. diplomats have held about half a dozen secret meetings with Afghan Taliban contacts over the previous 10 months, mostly in Germany and Qatar.
May 27, 2014
Following the surge campaign of Obama’s first term, Washington rapidly draws down its forces and switches its emphasis to training and supporting the Afghan military. Obama outlines a plan to withdraw all but 9,800 American troops by the end of the year and pull out the rest by the end of 2016.
December 28, 2014
The U.S. combat mission is officially concluded after the withdrawal of most combat troops and a transition to an ‘Afghan-led’ war. The US forces trained Afghan soldiers during their deployments and taught them how to use U.S. weaponry and equipment.
August 21, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump announces his strategy, calling for a small, open-ended deployment of U.S. forces providing support to Afghans, with the goal of forcing the Taliban to negotiate peace with the Kabul government.
February 29, 2020
Under Trump, Washington signs an agreement with the Taliban in Doha to withdraw all U.S. troops. The Taliban agree to halt attacks on U.S. forces, not to let their territory be used for terrorism and to hold talks with the Afghan government, although those talks would subsequently prove fruitless.
April 14, 2021
Biden announces U.S. forces will withdraw unconditionally by Sept. 11, implementing the agreement reached with the Taliban by his predecessor, Trump.
July 2, 2021
U.S. troops abruptly pull out of their main base at Bagram airfield 60 km (40 miles) north of Kabul.
August 15, 2021
After a stunning week-long advance capturing cities across the country, the Taliban seize Kabul without a fight. President Ashraf Ghani flees the country. The United States and Western allies launch an urgent airlift from Kabul airport to bring out their own citizens and tens of thousands of Afghans who aided them.
August 26, 2021
Islamic State offshoot ISIS-K launches a suicide bomb attack on the crowded gates of Kabul airport, killing scores of civilians and 13 U.S. troops, the deadliest incident for U.S. forces in Afghanistan in more than a decade.
In the days that followed, the U.S. conducted drone strikes on ISIS-K assets in Kabul in response. ISIS-K also fired five rockets towards Kabul airport as U.S. and western forces tried to get the last American citizens and Afghan allies to safety.
August 30, 2021
U.S. General Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, announces completion of the U.S. troop withdrawal. The Taliban celebrated with gunfire in the streets as Western forces finally left after 20 years.
There were still at least 250 American citizens stranded on the ground and thousands of Afghan allies – SIV applicants are those designated as vulnerable – left to face the Taliban.