As President Joe Biden moved toward his goal of withdrawing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of this month, he repeatedly promised to keep Americans safe. The latest development from Kabul now throws that promise in serious doubt.
According to The Associated Press, Taliban forces are pushing ever closer to the capital city of Afghanistan. The situation has deteriorated so rapidly that the Kabul International Airport is now the only viable way out of the city.
For many Afghan citizens, flying is preferable to staying put ahead of the impending Taliban takeover. The AP reported that every flight on Afghan airlines Ariana and Kam Air is booked solid for at least a week.
“I had never [seen] such a rush at the airport before,” said Farid Ahmad Younusi, an Afghan man who said he left his lucrative business to flee the country. “Now [the] Taliban have everything that I worked for over the past 20 years.”
Previously, there were plenty of road routes out of Kabul. But the Taliban is now within miles of the city.
It’s not just Afghan citizens who must rely on the airport as their only lifeline, but also American troops sent to evacuate staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
The Bagram Air Base once served as a hub for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. But that base was abandoned as Biden pushed for a full withdrawal from the country by Aug. 31.
Despite repeated warnings about the potential consequences of pulling troops out of Afghanistan, Biden insisted the Afghan government would be able to hold off the Taliban.
“The jury is still out. But the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely,” Biden said on July 8, according to NPR.
Just over a month later, the Taliban is well on its way to “overrunning everything,” in large part due to the Biden administration’s poor handling of the situation.
Biden himself tacitly admitted his mistake by sending 3,000 American troops back into Afghanistan this week.
“This is a specific, narrowly focused, tailored mission to help with the safe, secure movement of … civilian personnel in Kabul,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Friday of that decision, according to the AP.
No matter how narrow the mission, there would be no need to send 3,000 troops into the country if everything was going according to plan.
The U.S. military is not panicking about the situation at the Kabul airport. Kirby was confident Saturday that the U.S. “will be able to move thousands per day” via airlift.
Still, it is entirely possible for the Taliban to sabotage movement into and out of the country.
If the insurgents are able to halt travel from the airport, they will have effectively trapped American forces in Afghanistan. While they most likely would not kill those troops, they could use them as bargaining chips in negotiations with the Biden administration.
Biden’s handling of the conflict in Afghanistan has been disastrous from the start, and the consequences of his missteps are now becoming clear.