After a chaotic start, the pace of evacuations from Kabul has increased in recent days, but officials have expressed skepticism that everyone seeking to leave will be out by the deadline. President Joe Biden intends to stick to the current August 31st cutoff date to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, leaving a narrow timeline to finish evacuating Americans and Afghan allies, according to multiple senior administration officials.
After the Taliban rapidly took control of the country, Americans and Afghans who aided the war effort were left scrambling to leave the country and escape the hard-line group. The military advised President Biden that he needed to make a decision on whether to extend the withdrawal deadline by Tuesday in order to allow enough time for the roughly 6,000 troops and the small number of embassy staff to leave. There is also a contingency plan in place to stay longer if the mission requires it.
The pace of evacuations has increased in recent days, with roughly 21,600 people being evacuated Monday according to the Pentagon. Since Aug. 14, the U.S. has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 58,700 people and has relocated approximately 63,900 people since the end of July. Although President Biden has committed to evacuating all Americans who wish to leave as well as Afghan allies, it is unclear if he will be able to uphold that promise on such a tight timeline. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Tuesday that it would take a few days to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. The pace of evacuations will likely decline as U.S. military personnel begin to leave.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Official: President Biden to adhere to self-imposed August 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 24, 2021
The Biden administration has been unable to say how many Americans remain in Afghanistan.
Just can’t understand why Biden is coming under sharp criticism for sticking to Aug. 31 deadline when neither the US nor G7 have any negotiating leverage with the Taliban, who are in control in Afghanistan.
— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) August 24, 2021