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April 13, 2023
On Monday, Rep. Adam Schiff said he does not believe all American citizens and Afghan allies who assisted U.S. forces will be evacuated by the August 31 deadline set by Biden.
Schiff, who serves as the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, made his prediction outside the U.S. Capitol following the Taliban’s rejection of an extended withdrawal date (Daily Mail). He did say, though, that a full evacuation would be “possible” but “very unlikely given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated, the number of SIV’s, the number of others who are members of the Afghan press, civil society leaders, woman leaders.”
Since August 15, as The Hill reports, 82,300 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan, but more than 10,000 people are still waiting for a flight out. John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, said about 4,400 Americans have been evacuated overall, but he does not know how many more Americans are in need of rescue.
“I am encouraged to see the numbers of people evacuated increasing readily to the point where we evacuated 11,000 people in a single day,” Schiff continued. “Nonetheless given the logistical difficulties of moving people to the airport and the limited number of workarounds it’s hard for me to see that could be fully complete by the end of the month.”
On Sunday, President Biden mentioned the possibility the evacuation deadline would be extended beyond August 31: “There’s discussions going on among us and the military about extending. Our hope is we will not have to extend, but there are going to be discussions, I suspect, on how far along we are in the process.”
Schiff noted his belief that a military presence should be maintained “for as long as is necessary to get all U.S. persons out and to meet our moral and ethical obligations to our Afghan partners” (New York Post).
The Taliban, however, have made it clear that they will not tolerate the presence of U.S. forces past the end of the month. Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban, told Sky News, “It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on Aug. 31 they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it, that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that.”
He continued, “If the U.S. or U.K. were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences.” Shaheen even added that a deadline extension would “create mistrust between us.”
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: DAILY ADVENT