President Biden on Tuesday said he will stick to an Aug. 31 deadline for removing US troops from Afghanistan — acceding to a Taliban “red line” that he not extend the timeframe to evacuate US citizens and refugees.
The decision may strand Americans and Afghans who helped the US military and is drawing condemnation from critics who say the US departure was poorly planned.
Biden Caves to Taliban’s August 31 Deadline
“Joe Biden just caved to the Taliban’s August 31 deadline. If President Trump were there, the ‘deadline’ would’ve been the day every single American is home—and not a second before,” former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wrote on Twitter.
He added: “And you can bet there would’ve been repercussions for the Taliban otherwise.”
Joe Biden just caved to the Taliban’s August 31 deadline.
If President Trump were there, the ‘deadline’ would’ve been the day every single American is home—and not a second before. And you can bet there would’ve been repercussions for the Taliban otherwise.
— Mark Meadows (@MarkMeadows) August 24, 2021
Biden made the announcement during a morning video conference with fellow G7 leaders, The Associated Press and Reuters reported.
Chad Gilmartin, a senior aide to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted, “President Biden must tell the American people directly: Will we or will we not have ALL Americans evacuated from Afghanistan by August 31? It’s past time Biden be straightforward and honest with the American people about his disastrous withdrawal.”
About 5,200 US troops are in Kabul helping with an airlift out of the Afghan capital following the Taliban’s capture of the city last week.
Taliban leaders demanded Biden not extend the timeframe for evacuations — threatening to seize control of the airport from the US.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News, “It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on Aug. 31 they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it, that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that.”
Shaheen said, “If the U.S. or U.K. were to seek additional time to continue evacuations, the answer is no. Or there would be consequences.”
Biden has pledged to evacuate all US citizens, though some are telling news outlets they cannot reach the airport. Biden administration officials say they aren’t sure how many Americans remain in the country.
According to a White House official, as of Tuesday morning about 58,700 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug. 14.
About 21,600 people were evacuated in a 24-hour period ending Tuesday morning, the official said. At least three babies have been born on evacuation flights, a US Army general said Monday.
But there remains great uncertainty about the number of Americans trapped behind Taliban lines.
A senior US official told The Post on Monday that about 4,000 Americans have been evacuated from Afghanistan, meaning that thousands may remain in Taliban-held areas.
The official said that the Pentagon initially estimated there were 8,000-10,000 Americans in Afghanistan and the State Department estimated 10,000-15,0000 US citizens.