“Last night, in Kabul, the United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan. The longest war in American history,” said the President of the United States, Joe Biden, in a speech on Tuesday (31), in gratitude to the commanders and other military personnel who helped to evacuate more than 124,000 people from Afghanistan. He extended his thanks to veterans and volunteers.
“No other country has done anything like it in all of history,” said Biden. “The extraordinary success of this mission was due to the incredible skill, bravery and selfless courage of the US military and our diplomats and intelligence professionals,” said the president, who called the action “not a war mission, but a mission. of mercy”.
This Monday (30), with the departure of the last flights from the international airport in Kabul, the longest occupation in American history ended.
Once again, Biden said he would not extend the presence in Afghanistan indefinitely.
He repeated what he had said in a statement shortly after the closing, that “it was the unanimous recommendation of the joint chiefs and all our ground commanders to terminate our airlift mission as planned.”
Image shows last US military to board final flight from Kabul airport
“In April, I made the decision to end this war. At the time, we believed that Afghan forces would have the ability to control the country, but this was not confirmed,” recalled Biden.
According to him, the decision is to continue supporting the Afghan people, but through diplomacy. “We don’t just believe in their (Taliban) words, but in their actions. And we have the influence to ensure that these commitments are fulfilled”, he said.
The withdrawal of US citizens and allies was completed exactly within the deadline agreed with the Taliban of August 31 (in Afghanistan’s time zone).
Biden kept the commitment despite requests from other countries for an extension to be requested in an attempt to remove more people from Kabul.
“Leaving Aug. 31 was not an arbitrary deadline,” said Biden. “It was designed to save American lives.”
The president also said that, due to negotiations held by his predecessor, Donald Trump, with the Taliban, the extremist group was strengthened, and he was faced with only one choice: to leave Afghanistan and end this war or escalate the situation.
“I wouldn’t extend this war forever and I wouldn’t extend a way out forever,” he said. “It was time to end this war.”
Biden noted that the Taliban has made promises that it will allow foreigners to leave the country even after Aug. 31, and that he hopes that commitment will be maintained.
The president said that 90% of Americans who were in the country have been evacuated and that “there is no deadline” for the remaining 10%, should they decide to leave, at any time.
“We remain committed to taking them out, if they want to leave,” he guaranteed.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Monday that if the Americans who remained in Afghanistan change their minds and decide to leave, they will still have help.
“Protecting Americans abroad remains the department’s most vital and enduring mission,” he said.
After the departure of the last US flights, the Taliban, which returned to power on Aug. 15, took control of the airport, which had been under US command since the fall of the Afghan government to extremists. On a social network, a spokesman for the group announced the end of the occupation and celebrated what he called “independence”.
According to the Pentagon, more than 120,000 Americans have been evacuated from Afghanistan in the past two weeks. About 500 citizens would have chosen to remain in the country. Blinken estimates that they would be less, from 150 to 200, but says it is difficult to pinpoint the number, as there are many people with dual citizenship.