The United States plans to complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of August , days earlier than originally planned, although it will maintain a diplomatic presence in the country, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday.
“Right now, we hope to complete it by the end of August,” Psaki said at his daily press conference. This calendar is shorter than the one initially envisaged by US President Joe Biden, who set the deadline for September 11 , when it will be 20 years since the 9/11 attacks that led to the invasion of Afghanistan by states. United.
Psaki spoke like this hours after it was learned that US forces had handed over control of Bagram Air Base , its main military installation in Afghanistan, to the Afghan authorities . The spokeswoman further confirmed that “before the end” of the withdrawal process in August, the United States will move out of Afghanistan thousands of translators and other Afghan workers who have supported US forces during the last two decades of war .
Although Psaki did not want to give more details “for security reasons,” CNN reported this Friday that Washington is negotiating with Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to take in some of these Afghan workers, while they complete a long process to obtain a visa from entry to the United States.
The New York Times announced in June that there are more than 18,000 Afghans who have worked as translators, engineers, drivers, security guards, ‘fixers’ (guides) and employees of the US embassy during the war and that they are in bureaucratic limbo after applying for that visa, known as SIV. These applicants also have 53,000 relatives. “Our plan is to relocate these people somewhere outside of Afghanistan before ending our military withdrawal,” Psaki stressed.
Relief in military command
The announcements from the White House coincided with that of the Pentagon, which reported this Friday that the military command of its country in Afghanistan will be replaced in the coming weeks – from General Austin “Scott” Miller to General Frank McKenzie – to prepare for the final departure of the US forces on Afghan soil.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby explained that Miller, who has served since 2019 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, Commander of the Central Command (CENTCOM). He also detailed that in this new and final phase the leadership of the US mission will be divided into two parts with an advanced office of the US-Afghanistan Forces in Kabul,
Biden gets exasperated
During an exchange with journalists, President Joe Biden said that the Government of Afghanistan has the capacity to maintain itself after the departure of US soldiers from its territory and despite the threat of the Taliban. However, after being asked three times about Afghanistan, Biden was exasperated and said he would not answer any more questions about that country , then added, visibly annoyed, that this was a “holiday weekend” for Independence Day. from the US, and wanted to talk about “happy things.”
Afterward, Psaki downplayed Biden’s brusque response to reporters on Friday. Psaki said journalists were “drawing too many conclusions” from Biden’s reaction, saying he simply wanted to settle the issue because he had already answered three questions, not because it did not seem like an important issue.
The reduction in international troops has coincided with an increase in the Taliban’s offensives and their advance on the territories. Since the start of the withdrawal, the insurgents have captured almost 80 of the 407 districts from government forces.