- As tensions in Afghanistan continue to rise, the US has until August 31 to evacuate thousands.
- The G7 lobbied Biden to extend the evacuation date to get everyone out, but he’s sticking to it.
- The Taliban threatened “consequences” if troops aren’t out on time.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
As tensions continue to rise in Afghanistan, the US faces a hard deadline to evacuate all Americans and allies who wish to flee the country.
The Taliban have threatened “consequences” if President Joe Biden doesn’t follow through on his promise to get troops out of Kabul by August 31. On Tuesday, a Taliban spokesman said there wouldn’t be an option to extend the deadline past that date, The Associated Press reported.
Now a confrontation between the Taliban and the US looms.
On Tuesday, the White House in a statement announced that the US intended to maintain the August 31 deadline for completing evacuations from the Kabul airport. Prior to this announcement, G7 leaders tried to lobby Biden to impose an extension to that date, The AP reported.
It’s possible that some might be left behind in Afghanistan if troops pull out by August 31.
There have been widespread complaints about Biden’s handling of the Afghanistan crisis from Britain, France, Germany, and others in the G7, according to the AP.
If Biden cannot evacuate all Americans by the deadline, the Taliban could shut down Kabul’s airport as a consequence, which would prevent people from leaving the country.
Biden was set to speak at noon ET, but the speech was pushed back to Tuesday evening. He’ll likely address his decision to maintain the August 31 deadline.
Taliban said it wouldn’t allow a deadline extension, and the UN warned of ‘credible’ reports of executions
The Taliban on Tuesday also said they would not allow Afghans to reach the Kabul airport, saying that they needed skilled people to rebuild the country.
“We are asking the American please change your policy and don’t encourage Afghans to leave,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
This came as the UN’s human-rights chief warned of “credible” reports of serious violations by the Taliban, including the executions of civilians and surrendering Afghan forces.
With the Taliban tightening their grip over the country, Biden’s handling of the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan has been widely criticized. But the president has fervently defended the move, saying that keeping a significant force of US troops in the country would not have fundamentally altered the situation on the ground after roughly 20 years of war.
The Taliban already controlled much of Afghanistan by the time Biden announced the US withdrawal in April, which built off a deal the Trump administration brokered in February 2020. While the US intelligence community said that the Afghan government would struggle to retain control of Afghanistan after a coalition withdrawal, Biden in July expressed confidence in the ability of Afghan forces to keep the Taliban at bay.
Within a few weeks, the Taliban had retaken the country – often capturing major cities without much of a fight. The Biden administration has acknowledged it was caught off guard by the Taliban’s rapid takeover, despite prior warnings.
The US sent in about 6,000 additional troops to Afghanistan after the Taliban entered Kabul to assist with evacuations. It’s unclear precisely how the Taliban will respond if the US stays in Afghanistan beyond the August 31 deadline.
The US military has evacuated nearly 60,000 people from Afghanistan since August 14, Reuters reported, citing a NATO diplomat.