Biden Says Chaos Couldn’t Have Been Avoided: Afghanistan Update
(Bloomberg) -- The United Arab Emirates announced it was hosting Ashraf Ghani after the exiled president of Afghanistan fled the country.
U.S. President Joe Biden said chaos in Afghanistan was unavoidable as troops withdrew.
A group of 300 Afghan refugees arrived in Albania and North Macedonia is expecting 450 more by the end of the week.
And Taliban fighters have set up checkpoints around Afghanistan’s international airport, raising concerns the group may prevent citizens from fleeing the country after the U.S.-backed government collapsed.
Key stories and developments:
- Taliban fighters guard Kabul airport
- U.S. Freezes Nearly $9.5 Billion Afghanistan Central Bank Assets
- The Fight for Women’s Rights Under the Taliban: Balance of Power
- Sharia Law for Afghan Women? What That Might Be: QuickTake
- Video: What Could Afghanistan Look Like Under Taliban Rule?
All times are in ET.
Biden Says Chaos Was Unavoidable (5:07 p.m. ET)
U.S. President Joe Biden said chaos in Afghanistan was unavoidable after the U.S. withdrew troops from the country.
Asked by George Stephanopoulos of ABC News if the U.S. exit could have been handled better, Biden said no.
“The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens,” he told Stephanopoulos in an interview.
Biden repeated in the interview, taped earlier Wednesday, that he stood by his decision to withdraw.
U.S. intelligence didn’t expect rapid military collapse (3:40 p.m. ET)
U.S. intelligence didn’t foresee such a rapid collapse of the Afghan military before American troops were withdrawn from the country, according to the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“There are not reports that I am aware of that predicted a security force of 300,000 would evaporate in 11 days from 6 August to 16 August with the capture of 34 provinces and the capital city of Kabul,” General Mark Milley said Wednesday at a news conference.
Milley said the situation in Kabul, where about 4,500 U.S. troops are at the airport, remains dangerous and fluid. -- Peter Martin
Ghani says he’s in talks to return (1:40 p.m. ET)
Ghani, speaking on Facebook from the UAE, said he left Afghanistan to prevent bloodshed and that he is in talks to return to his country.
“I am currently in the Emirates so that might have already stopped the bloodshed and chaos, and currently, I am in talks to return to Afghanistan,” he said.
He also said the Taliban should work on building an inclusive government. -- Eltaf Najafizada
Ghani says he’ll address the nation (12:58 p.m. ET)
Ghani said on Twitter that he’ll address Afghanistan at 9:30 p.m. Kabul time to discuss the latest developments in the country. -- Malak Saleh
Denmark evacuates 84 people from Kabul (11:52 a.m. ET)
Denmark evacuated 84 people from the Kabul airport, including employees at its embassy, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters Wednesday in Copenhagen.
The Nordic country is working to evacuate its own citizens and residents, local staff, translators and human rights activists from Afghanistan. There are currently about 70 citizens or permanent resident holders from Denmark in Afghanistan. -- Morten Buttler
U.S. troops fired shots at Kabul airport (11:30 a.m. ET)
U.S. Troops fired shots in an effort to control crowds at or near the Kabul airport overnight, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters while saying that the airport facility remains “secure.”
The U.S. has about 4,500 troops on the ground at the airport and 18 planes carrying about 2,000 people departed over the previous 24 hours, Kirby said. That included 325 Americans.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will brief reporters on the latest situation at 3 p.m. Washington time. -- Travis Tritten
UAE Says Hosting Afghanistan’s Ghani on ‘Humanitarian’ Grounds (10 a.m. ET)
The UAE said Thursday it is hosting Ghani and his family.
“The UAE has welcomed President Ashraf Ghani and his family into the country on humanitarian grounds,” the UAE foreign ministry said in a statement. -- Sylvia Westall
First Group of Refugees Arrives in Albania (9:56 a.m. ET)
A group of 300 Afghan refugees arrived in Albania, while on Wednesday, as authorities prepare tents as temporary shelter for them, according to Tirana-based Koha Jone.
Members of the group will undergo medical examinations before being placed in hotels on Albania’s Adriatic coast and in student campuses in the capital, Tirana.
The U.S. is rushing to ramp up flights out of Kabul’s airport and evacuate American citizens and thousands of Afghan allies and their families who could be at risk from the Taliban takeover.
Another country that’s accepting fleeing Afghans, North Macedonia, is expecting 450 refugees, most of whom will arrive with organized flights by the end of the week. Kosovo has also said it will accept refugees. Neighbor Iran said it will bar Afghans from entry at its eastern border, cutting off a potential route to Europe for refugees. -- Andrew Langley
Afghan Currency Advances For First Day in Five Versus Dollar (9:23 a.m. ET)
Afghanistan’s currency ended a four-day losing streak where it had dropped to a record low versus the dollar. The Afghani gained as much as 4.2% to 82.5813 per U.S. dollar as of 8:47 a.m. in New York -- Colleen Goko
U.S., U.K. EU Voice Concern Over Afghan Women, Girls (9:15 a.m. ET)
The U.S., U.K. the European Union and 18 other countries issued a joint statement saying they’re “deeply worried about Afghan women and girls, their rights to education, work and freedom of movement.”
“We call on those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan to guarantee their protection,” the nations said, adding, “Afghan women and girls, as all Afghan people, deserve to live in safety, security and dignity.
Albania, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, North Macedonia, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Senegal and Switzerland signed the statement. -- Kathleen Hunter
Johnson Calls on Allies to Help Stop Afghan Humanitarian Crisis (8:02 a.m. ET)
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his country will honor its “enduring commitment” to the people of Afghanistan by accepting 20,000 refugees, and called for international cooperation to prevent a humanitarian disaster.
Speaking at an emergency session of Parliament on Wednesday, Johnson said his government’s immediate focus is the evacuation of British nationals and local support staff, noting that the situation has “stabilized” since the weekend and that the Taliban are allowing those efforts to proceed. -- Alex Morales
Merkel Ally Slams U.S. for Afghan Debacle as Tensions Rise (7:07 a.m. ET)
An ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to rapidly withdraw from Afghanistan and said the fallout would lead to a more independent defense strategy for Germany and Europe.
“Nobody asked us whether it was a good idea to leave that country in such a quick way,” Johann Wadephul, a deputy caucus leader for Merkel’s Christian Democrats in the Bundestag, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “So, the very irritating situation we now have -- the chaos we are facing in Kabul -- is of course the result of this.” -- Patrick Donahue
Iran Closes Border to Afghans Citing ‘Stabilizing’ Situation (6:27 a.m. ET)
Iran said it will bar Afghans from crossing the countries’ border, walking back an earlier pledge to temporarily house people fleeing the Taliban.
Hossein Ghassemi, deputy for border affairs at the Interior Ministry, said security forces have been ordered to return Afghans at the border “as Afghanistan’s domestic situation is stabilizing,” and to limit the spread of Covid-19, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency reported. -- Arsalan Shahla
Germany Approves Deployment of 600 Soldiers to Aid Evacuation (5:25 a.m. ET)
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday approved the deployment of up to 600 soldiers to help support the ongoing evacuations from Kabul.
The latest German military plane left Afghanistan with 176 people on board, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter. -- Chris Reiter.
U.K.’s Johnson Rejects Call for Independent Inquiry Into Withdrawal of Troops (4:57 a.m. ET)
Speaking in an emergency debate in Parliament in London. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Taliban are allowing evacuations to continue. And he rejected a call for an independent inquiry into the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
“We must deal with the world as it is, accepting what we have achieved and what we have not achieved,” Johnson said. “Our immediate focus must be on those to whom we have direct obligations.”
The U.K. is evacuating a mix of Britons and Afghans. -- Kitty Donaldson.
Afghanistan’s Money Largely Out of Reach of Taliban, Ahmady Says (3:50 a.m. ET)
Afghanistan’s international reserves can’t be accessed by the Taliban after the U.S. froze the country’s central bank assets, Ajmal Ahmady, the acting head of the authority, said in a series of tweets Wednesday. The Taliban are now facing a cash crunch and will have to implement capital controls, limiting access to the dollar, he added. Ahmady took to Twitter Monday to say he had left the country, although he didn’t say where to. -- Angela Cullen
U.S. Embassy Denies Turkish Opposition Claims on Afghan Refugee Deal (2:30 a.m. ET)
The U.S. embassy in Ankara denied claims by Turkish opposition parties that it made a deal with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Afghan refugees. Such allegations are “completely without foundation,” the embassy said on Twitter.
Anti-migrant sentiment is on the rise in Turkey after allegations that Afghans will be added to millions of Syrian refugees currently in the country. Last week, a mob attacked Syrian homes and businesses. -- Patrick Sykes
Afghan Airlift Deadline Must be Extended, Lawmakers Tell Biden (11:15 p.m. ET)
More than 40 House lawmakers spanning the political spectrum are imploring President Joe Biden to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan until they finish evacuating U.S. citizens and Afghan allies.
The bipartisan push, which includes long-time war critics alongside GOP hawks, underscores the growing unease on Capitol Hill about America’s messy withdrawal amid the Taliban’s rapid rise.
“The United States must do everything possible to securely hold the airport in Kabul until the rescue mission is complete and our citizens, allies, and vulnerable Afghans have had an opportunity to leave,” the lawmakers wrote in a Tuesday letter to Biden. -- Daniel Flatley
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