US President Joe Biden is committed to keeping troops in Afghanistan until every American is evacuated, even if that means staying in the country beyond the August 31 withdrawal deadline.
In an interview with ABC News, Biden pushed back against criticism that his administration should have done more to plan for the evacuation and withdrawal from the country.
Asked repeatedly by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos how the administration would help Americans left in the nation after August 31, Biden said, “If there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay till we get them all out.”
Up to 15,000 Americans remain in Afghanistan after the Taliban took full control of the nation last weekend.
EXCLUSIVE: @GStephanopoulos: “Do you believe the Taliban have changed?”
Pres. Biden: “I think they’re going through sort of an existential crisis about do they want to be recognized by the int’l community as being a legitimate government.” https://t.co/zgMVDKleiv pic.twitter.com/Bgxenaydap
— ABC News (@ABC) August 19, 2021
Asked what he thought would happen now in Afghanistan and whether he believed that the Taliban had changed, the president said: Let me put it this way. I think they’re going through sort of an existential crisis about do they want to be recognised by the international community as being a legitimate government. I’m not sure they do. But look, they have…
“They also care about whether they have food to eat, whether they have an income that they can provide for their f– that they can make any money and run an economy. They care about whether or not they can hold together the society that they in fact say they care so much about.
“I’m not counting on any of that. I’m not cou— but that is part of what I think is going on right now in terms of… I’m not sure I would’ve predicted, George, nor would you or anyone else, that when we decided to leave, that they’d provide safe passage for Americans to get out.”
On the question of Afghan women who are “facing the prospect of subjugation again”, Biden said the US should evacuate as many women as it can.
“I had a meeting today for a couple hours in the Situation Room just below here. There are Afghan women outside the gate. I told ‘em, ‘Get ‘em on the planes. Get them out. Get them out. Get their families out if you can.”