Some Countries Halt Evacuation Efforts Abruptly

( Citing security concerns, last Wednesday Poland halted its evacuation efforts from Kabul airport. The decision was prompted in part by President Joe Biden’s decision not to extend the withdrawal deadline of August 31 and keep US forces in place.

But Biden’s decision was taken out of his hands by the Taliban who, after the President hinted that US troops might stay beyond the August 31 deadline, made it abundantly clear that no extension of the deadline would be permitted.

Calling August 31 a “red line,” Taliban spokesman, Dr. Suhail Shaheen, told reporters that President Biden announced that date and if the US tries to stay later, “there would be consequences.” Shaheen said that any military presence beyond August 31 would be viewed as “extending occupation,” and if the US or the UK would seek additional time the answer from the Taliban is no.

Polish deputy foreign minister Marcin Przydacz said on Wednesday that the group Poland took from Kabul to Uzbekistan was the last they would evacuate. He said Poland made this decision after consulting with both US and UK officials.

Przydacz added that given the security situation, Poland will not risk the lives of its diplomats or soldiers any longer. The only Polish presence remaining were a number of troops who will stay briefly to carry out final procedures, including closing the base.

Since the frantic evacuations began, Poland used over a dozen planes to evacuate hundreds to Warsaw. Some evacuees then traveled on to other countries.

What is staggering is that the chaos and violence outside of Kabul’s airport could have been avoided. On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that the Taliban had offered to let the US maintain control of Kabul, but we turned them down.

According to the Washington Post, during an in-person meeting with US military leaders in Doha on the weekend of August 15, the head of Taliban’s political wing, Abdul Ghani Baradar, told them that the US has two options – either the United States military takes responsibility for securing Kabul, or the US permits the Taliban to do it.

Meanwhile, hiding in Camp David, President Biden remained firm that all US troops be removed from Afghanistan and insisted on sticking to the August 31 deadline. That being the case, the US military leaders in Doha told Baradar that the only US mission was to conduct evacuations of Americans and Afghan allies, so all we needed was the airport.

The upshot of this Washington Post report is chilling. All of this could have been avoided if military leaders had agreed to maintain control of Kabul. But on orders of the President, the US decided to cede control of Kabul to the Taliban.