Biden’s Inaccurate Claims in Defending Afghanistan Withdrawal

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Fact Check

The president made misleading oregon mendacious claims astir the absorption of allies to the withdrawal, the beingness of Al Qaeda and conditions for Americans traveling to the Kabul airport.

President Biden, speaking from the White House connected  Friday, defended his withdrawal from Afghanistan and the chaotic evacuation effort.
Credit...Tom Brenner for The New York Times

Linda Qiu

Aug. 20, 2021Updated 11:18 p.m. ET

President Biden, successful remarks connected Friday, vowed to evacuate each Americans retired of Afghanistan and defended his medication from criticisms implicit the withdrawal.

But successful doing so, helium made respective misleading oregon mendacious claims astir the pullout and evacuation, which person been chaotic arsenic Americans and tens of thousands of Afghan allies try to fly done the airport successful Kabul.

Here’s a fact-check of the president’s remarks.

What Mr. Biden said

“I person seen nary question of our credibility from our allies astir the world.”

This is misleading. While leaders of countries allied with the United States person been hesitant to publically knock the withdrawal, immoderate members of their governments person not minced words successful questioning American enactment and credibility.

In Germany, the president of Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee called the withdrawal “a superior and far-reaching miscalculation by the existent administration” and said it did “fundamental harm to the governmental and motivation credibility of the West.” Armin Laschet, the caput of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Conservative Party and a campaigner successful the predetermination to win her, called it the “biggest debacle” that NATO had ever seen. Ms. Merkel besides criticized it privately, according to German quality media reports.

In Britain, the pullout has raised doubts among immoderate officials astir the reliability of the United States arsenic an ally. Tom Tugendhat, a Conservative subordinate of Parliament and the president of the Foreign Affairs Committee, characterized it the “biggest overseas argumentation disaster” since the 1956 Suez crisis, saying that “we request to deliberation again astir however we grip friends, who matters and however we support our interests.”

Latvia’s defence minister, Artis Pabriks, said that the withdrawal caused “chaos” and showed that the West was “weaker globally.”

What Mr. Biden said

“What involvement bash we person successful Afghanistan astatine this constituent with Al Qaeda gone? We went to Afghanistan for the explicit intent of getting escaped of Al Qaeda successful Afghanistan arsenic good as, arsenic good arsenic getting Osama bin Laden, and we did.”

False. Al Qaeda’s beingness successful Afghanistan has surely been reduced since the United States invaded, but Mr. Biden is incorrect to accidental that the violent radical is nary longer successful the country.

A United Nations Security Council study released successful June estimated that Al Qaeda inactive had a beingness successful astatine slightest 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. The Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General said successful a report released connected Wednesday that “the Taliban continued to support its narration with Al Qaeda, providing harmless haven for the violent radical successful Afghanistan.”

After Mr. Biden spoke, John F. Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed successful a news conference that Al Qaeda had a beingness successful Afghanistan.

What Mr. Biden said

“We person nary denotation that they haven’t been capable to get — successful Kabul — done the airport. We’ve made an statement with the, with the Taliban. Thus far, they’ve allowed them to spell through. It’s successful their involvement for them to spell through. So, we cognize of nary condition wherever American citizens are — carrying an American passport — are trying to get done to the airport.”

This is misleading. Reports from Afghanistan contradict this statement, and different authorities officials person been much cautious erstwhile describing the conditions for American citizens traveling to the airport.

Understand the Taliban Takeover successful Afghanistan

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Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose successful 1994 amid the turmoil that came aft the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan successful 1989. They utilized brutal nationalist punishments, including floggings, amputations and wide executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s much connected their root communicative and their grounds arsenic rulers.

The United States Embassy successful Kabul sent a information alert connected Wednesday informing American citizens, ineligible residents and their families that the “United States authorities cannot guarantee harmless transition to the Hamid Karzai International Airport.”

Asked astir Mr. Biden’s assertion that nary American had been denied entree to the airport, Ned Price, a spokesperson for the State Department, said successful a news league connected Friday that the section “has received lone a tiny fig of reports from American citizens that their entree has been impeded successful immoderate way, that they person faced immoderate benignant of hardship oregon resistance, getting to the airport.”

Mr. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, besides said successful the news conference that helium was alert of “sporadic reports of immoderate Americans not being capable to get done checkpoints,” but that they were capable to get done “by and large.”

Politico reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III told Congress connected Friday that immoderate Americans trying to permission Afghanistan had been harassed and beaten by Taliban fighters.

An unnamed American nonmigratory successful Afghanistan told ABC News that helium had witnessed radical holding U.S. passports not being allowed done Taliban checkpoints. Clarissa Ward, a CNN newsman successful Kabul, said aft Mr. Biden’s remarks that she had trouble reaching the airport.

“Working however to get to this airdrome is similar a Rubik’s Cube,” Ms. Ward said connected CNN connected Friday. “Anyone who says that immoderate American tin get successful present is — yes, I mean, technically, it’s possible. But it’s highly difficult, and it is dangerous.”

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