Biden Moves Up Afghanistan Withdrawal Date From September 11th to August 31st
Do you think that the Afghanistan withdrawal timeline is appropriate?
What’s the story?
- President Joe Biden spoke at a press conference on Thursday to announce that the U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan will be completed by the end of August, ahead of the September 11th deadline he announced in April. Biden explained:
“I want to be clear: The U.S. military mission in Afghanistan continues through the end of August... As I said in April, the United States did what we went to do in Afghanistan: to get the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and to deliver justice to Osama Bin Laden, and to degrade the terrorist threat to keep Afghanistan from becoming a base from which attacks could be continued against the United States. We achieved those objectives. That’s why we went. We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build. And it’s the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country.”
- In response to a question about whether the Afghan government’s corruption contributed to the failure of the U.S. mission in the country, Biden replied, “Well, first of all, the mission hasn’t failed, yet” and added that “the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”
- The president was also asked about whether the evacuation of Afghans who worked with the U.S. and their family members has been moving quickly enough. Biden said “over 2,500 people that as ― from January to now, have gotten those visas. And only half decided that they wanted to leave.”
- Biden said his administration is asking Congress to change the law to allow Afghans to come directly to the U.S. while their Special immigrant Visa (SIV) is approved. He added that “we can guarantee their safety, if they wish to leave, by taking them to third countries and/or, while the wait is taking place, to come to ― to ― and hopefully, while they’re waiting there, to be able to bring them back to the United States, if that’s what they choose to do.”
- Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL), a former Green Beret who served in Afghanistan and has worked with bipartisan lawmakers to evacuate Afghan interpreters, said in a statement that while it’s “encouraging to see the Biden Administration finally begin to focus on evacuating Afghan interpreters… I fear time has run out.” He added:
“President Biden’s claim that half of Afghans approved for SIV have chosen not to come to America does not comport with what we are hearing on the ground. I call on the White House, Department of Defense, Department of State, and Department of Homeland Security to provide briefings immediately to members of Congress so we can understand the scope of the evacuation and ongoing SIV vetting.”
- The SIV program currently has an application backlog of more than 18,000 Afghans. Historically, it takes about 800 days for the State Dept. to process an application and conduct security screenings. Congress has acted on several occasions over the years to adopt bills to address the visa shortage by incorporating legislation into defense authorization bills.
- U.S. Military Withdraws From Bagram Air Base as Afghanistan Drawdown Continues
- Biden Urged to Expedite Visas for Afghan Interpreters Facing Taliban Death Threats or There Will Be ‘Blood on His Hands’ After U.S. Withdrawal
- Should Afghan Interpreters & Family Members Be Able to Wait to Get Medical Exams Until They’re Admitted to the U.S.? (H.R. 3385 - House Passed)
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus J. Quarterman via Flickr / Creative Commons)
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