Taliban seeks legitimacy, Biden defends U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan
By Sophie Boulter, World News Editor
The Taliban said that women’s rights would be protected according to Sharia law and that the militant group would govern Afghanistan responsibly in a Tuesday press conference.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stated that the Taliban had “pardoned all those who have fought against us.”
He also confirmed that women would be given a role in society “under an Islamic framework.”
The Taliban, a militant group which dubs its de facto government “the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” is seeking international recognition as the leader of an independent state.
President Joe Biden stated on Wednesday that U.S. citizens would be evacuated from Afghanistan by Aug. 31.
In response to chaotic scenes in a Kabul airport which left at least seven people dead, President Joe Biden stood by the U.S. exit of Afghanistan on Monday.
Thousands of Afghans tried to flee the country on Monday after the Taliban’s takeover. Footage from the Hamid Karzai International Airport showed people clinging to U.S. Air Force jets leaving the capital.
“This did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” Biden conceded.
Biden stood “squarely behind” his decision to take American troops out of the country, blaming Afghanistan’s armed forces and deposed president Ashraf Ghani for insufficiently fighting the Taliban.
“It is wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan’s own armed forces would not,” Biden said.
Richard Haass, chair of the Council on Foreign Relations — the foremost think tank on U.S. foreign policy — drew parallels between the Afghanistan withdrawal and the American retreat from Saigon in the Vietnam War.
“Beyond the local consequences — widespread reprisals, harsh repression of women and girls and massive refugee flows — America’s strategic and moral failure in Afghanistan will reinforce questions about U.S. reliability among friends and foes alike,” he said.
Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, characterized the withdrawal as “disastrous.”
Other politicians and analysts have come to Biden’s defense.
“President Biden understands history when it comes to Afghanistan. (Biden) made the difficult decision to not hand over this longest of American wars to a fifth president,” Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said.
Supporting Biden’s withdrawal, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stated that the U.S. “invented reasons” to stay in Afghanistan.
“It was always, ‘We’ll be through in another year or so.’ So on and so on. Well, that got to be 20 years,” Hagel said.
Biden’s decision to end America’s longest ever war was popular with the majority of the American public. But after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, support for this decision has become largely partisan.
A 2021 Chicago Council Poll taken in July found that 70% of Americans supported withdrawal from Afghanistan. This included 77% of Democrats, 70% of Independents and 56% of Republicans.
A Politico poll taken from Aug. 13 to Aug. 16 found that 49% of people still support the withdrawal, including 69% of Democrats and 31% of Republicans.
Former president Ghani fled the country on Sunday. In a statement posted to Facebook, Ghani conceded control of his country to the Taliban.
“The Taliban have won… and are now responsible for the honor, property and self-preservation of their countrymen,” he said.
Journalist Nazira Karima expressed her frustration with Ghani’s decision to flee the country.
“We don’t know where is he, and we don’t have a president,” she said.
Karima also noted that, under Taliban leadership, women in Afghanistan would lose their rights.
The Taliban will “come for people like me and kill me,” said Zarifa Ghafari, the first female mayor of the Maidan Shar province of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, America’s foreign allies have taken increasingly drastic steps to evacuate citizens from the country, including employing the military.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent 600 troops to assist in evacuating British nationals and Afghan nationals who assisted British forces in Afghanistan over the last 20 years.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that using military resources to evacuate Canadian nationals is “certainly something we are looking at.”