Biden admits that Taliban are at strongest point since 2001

Washington, Jul 8 (EFE).- President Joe Biden on Thursday acknowledged that the Taliban are militarily stronger than at any point since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, adding that he considered it “highly unlikely” that a “unified government” would be able to control the entire country.

In a speech delivered at the White House, Biden however defended his plans to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and announced that the process will be completed by Aug. 31, a new and earlier deadline than the Sept. 11 withdrawal date announced originally.

“Speed is safety” for US troops, Biden said during his speech, which he transformed into an improvised press conference.

“How many thousands more American daughters and sons are you willing to risk? How long would you have them stay?” Biden said. “Already we have members of our military whose parents fought in Afghanistan 20 years ago. Would you send their children? Or their grandchildren as well? Would you send your own son or daughter?”

“I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome,” the president added.

Since the US began withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan in May, Taliban insurgents have captured 100 of the country’s 402 districts, taking control of more than 35 percent of Afghan territory.

He said that the Taliban were militarily stronger than at any point since 2001.

Nevertheless, Biden added that it is not “inevitable” that the Taliban would retake full control of Afghanistan, including the capital of Kabul, and he expressed his confidence in the ability of the Afghan security forces, who he said are better trained and “as well equipped as any army in the world.”

“No nation has ever unified Afghanistan,” he said.

He said that some of his critics have been calling for US forces to remain in the Central Asian country for another six months or a year, but he said that doing so would not resolve the security situation there and could result in US troops continuing to be put at risk.

Biden said that once the agreement with the Taliban was struck the idea of the US remaining in the country with a minimum number of troops ceased to be possible, a reference to the agreement reached last year between the Donald Trump administration and the insurgents.

The president also said that Washington bore “no” responsibility for the deaths of Afghan civilians after the US withdrawal, adding that the Afghan authorities must be the ones to work to ensure the country’s security.

“We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build. And it’s the right and the responsibility of Afghan people, alone, to decide their future and how they want to run their country,” Biden said.

Regarding the Afghan interpreters and aides who worked for the US during the time American forces were deployed in the country, Biden said that his administration was working to help relocate them and their families to the US and/or third countries.

“These Afghan women and men stood by us and we will stand by them,” Biden said.


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