US to complete Afghanistan pullout by August end
Washington, Jul 2 (EFE).- The United States plans to be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of August, earlier than initially planned, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday.
“We currently expect it to be completed by the end of August,” Psaki said at a daily press conference.
This timeline is shorter than the one initially envisaged by President Joe Biden, who set the deadline at Sep. 11, the 20-year anniversary of 9/11, which led to the US’ invasion of Afghanistan.
Psaki spoke hours after it was learned that US forces had handed over control of Bagram Airfield, its main military installation in Afghanistan, to the Afghan authorities.
The spokeswoman also confirmed that translators, drivers and other Afghan workers who have supported US forces during the last two decades of war “will be relocated to a location outside of Afghanistan (…) before we complete our military drawdown by the end of August.”
Although Psaki did not give more details “for security reasons,” CNN reported Friday that Washington is in talks with Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to take in some of these soon at-risk Afghan workers while they complete the long process to obtain a visa for entry to the US.
The New York Times reported in June that there are more than 18,000 Afghans who have worked as interpreters, engineers, drivers, security guards, fixers and employees of the US embassy in bureaucratic limbo after applying for the special immigrant visa. These applicants also have 53,000 relatives.
The announcements from the White House coincided with that of the Pentagon, which reported Friday that the US command authority in Afghanistan will be transferred in the coming weeks – with Gen. Frank McKenzie replacing Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller – to prepare for the final departure of the US forces.
Miller, who has served since 2018 as commander of the US Army and the international coalition in Afghanistan, will remain on the ground in the coming weeks to complete the transfer of tasks and responsibilities to McKenzie, head of the US Central Command.
The withdrawal of international troops has coincided with an increase in Taliban offensives and advance on territories. Since the start of the withdrawal, the insurgents have captured almost 80 of the 407 districts from government forces. EFE