Michael Cardinal, FISM News
A spokesperson for the Taliban said there would be consequences if the US does not stick to Biden’s August 31 withdrawal deadline, saying that the date is a “red line” and any foreign occupation beyond that date would “provoke a reaction.”
In an interview with Sky News, Taliban spokesperson Dr. Suhail Shaheen said that if the US or other foreign country sought to stay in the country past the deadline that it would not be granted. He noted that President Biden was the one who set the deadline, and that any presence beyond that date would be “extending occupation” and would “deteriorate the relationship” between the two. He also claimed that the reason so many Afghan civilians are leaving the country is because they are seeking a better economic situation, not out of fear of the Taliban.
Taliban Spokesperson Suhail Shaheen says extending the August 31st deadline for foreign troop withdrawal would cross a “red line” and “provoke a reaction.” pic.twitter.com/vHTRNEfJyk
— The Recount (@therecount) August 23, 2021
Biden has been getting pressure from US lawmakers and foreign powers alike to extend the deadline in order to evacuate the tens of thousands of people who are still waiting to leave the country. An administration official told Reuters on Monday that the president planned to make a decision within the next 24 hours whether he would extend the deadline or not in order to give the Pentagon time to prepare for any changes in tactics.
Analysts are saying it would be nearly impossible to get everyone out of the country in the next 8 days, despite the ramped up efforts by US and foreign efforts at the Kabul airport. So far over 58,000 total people have been evacuated from the country in a combined international effort since the Taliban took over the capital on August 15, but there are still tens of thousands of US citizens, foreign citizens, and Afghani citizens who helped the US and NATO efforts who need to be evacuated.
Democratic U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, told reporters that everything would have to go near perfectly in order to meet the deadline. However, the efforts have been anything but perfect as highlighted by a gunfight that occurred yesterday between international forces protecting the airport and suspected Taliban fighters, which killed one Afghan soldier.
G7 leaders are also meeting virtually today to discuss the withdrawal. Many of the nations have indicated that they are unhappy with the US withdrawal strategy and plan to push Biden to negotiate an extension. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to personally urge Biden to keep US forces in the country beyond August 31 to help provide stability while the UK continues to evacuate their personnel.
Biden previously said that he still hopes that he will not have to extend the deadline, but will continue to evaluate the situation.