Biden says Afghanistan exit marks end of US nation-building

US President Joe Biden has said that the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan was the best available option for him to end to country’s longest military campaign, adding that the other option would be going back to war.

“I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit,” he said in a televised address on Tuesday, just hours after the last US soldiers evacuated from Kabul airport ending 20 years of war.

“We succeeded in what we set out to do in Afghanistan over a decade ago. And we stayed for another decade. It was time to end this war. This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries,” he said.

The Taliban, which seized control of the country for the second time, celebrated their victory saying that Afghanistan is finally a “free and sovereign” nation.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said their victory should serve “as a lesson” for the United States.

Here are the latest updates:

Afghan interpreter who helped rescue Biden: Don’t forget me here

An Afghan interpreter, who helped rescue then-Senator Joe Biden and two other US senators, after their helicopter was stranded in a snowstorm in Afghanistan, is pleading the US president to rescue him and his family,

In an exclusive interview with The Wall Street Journal, the interpreter named Mohammed said he, his wife and their four children are hiding from the Taliban, after his years of effort to go to the US got tangled in the bureaucracy.

“Don’t forget me here,” The Journal quoted Mohammed as saying.

The US, which ended its 20-year occupation of Afghanistan on August 31st, had promised those who worked with US troops that they will be eligible to apply for a special visa to the US.

This sums up the Biden, the man and his Afghan policies: “Afghan Interpreter Who Helped Rescue Biden in 2008 Left Behind After U.S. Exit” https://t.co/67aJ1RwlMH

— Saad Mohseni (@saadmohseni) September 1, 2021

PM Johnson says UK owes ‘huge debt’ to Afghan refugees

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday his country owes “an immense debt” to Afghanistan and its people who worked with NATO forces as he announced “vital support” for those resettling in the UK.

But his government is coming under fire after an estimated 8,000 Afghans who helped NATO were believed to be have been left stranded in Afghanistan, where they are at the mercy of the Taliban.

“We owe an immense debt to those who worked with the Armed Forces in Afghanistan and I am determined that we give them and their families the support they need to rebuild their lives here in the UK,” Johnson said.

US Treasury issued new licence to ease flow of aid in Afghanistan

The US government has issued a licence authorising it and its partners to continue to facilitate humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, a Treasury Department official has told the Reuters news agency, after the Taliban, which is blacklisted by Washington, seized control of the country this month.

The specific licence, issued by the Treasury Department last Wednesday, authorises the US government and its contractors to support humanitarian assistance to people in Afghanistan, including the delivery of food and medicine, despite US sanctions on the Taliban.

The licence, which expires on March 1, 2022, comes amid concerns that Washington’s sanctions on the Taliban could speed up an unfolding humanitarian crisis in the country, which relies heavily on foreign aid.

US denies abandoning dogs at Kabul airport

The US Department of Defense has denied reports that soldiers abandoned some of their dogs at Kabul airport during Washington’s final withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“To correct erroneous reports, the US military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, including the reported military working dogs,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby posted on social media.

He clarified that photos circulating online showed dogs in an animal shelter and not those being used by the military.

The animal rights group PETA earlier quoted “inside sources” as saying that 60 bomb-sniffing dogs and 60 other “working dogs” were left behind “suffering in the heat without adequate access to food or water.”

Biden’s speech: The full transcript

President Joe Biden mounted a defiant defence of his Afghanistan policies on Tuesday, stressing that the withdrawal was the “right decision”.

“I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit,” Biden said.

Read the speech here.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Afghanistan during a speech at the White House, August 31 [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Biden signs law to aid Americans returning from Afghanistan

President Joe Biden signed into law on Tuesday a bill that would provide up to $10m in assistance for US citizens who have been evacuated from Afghanistan for the next two years.

The Senate had passed the legislation unanimously earlier in the day. The House of Representatives approved it last week.

Senator Ben Cardin said the bill increases funds for returning Americans to help them meet their immediate needs, including housing. “They’ve been uprooted, they were living in Afghanistan, so [it is] to take care of their necessities on a short-term basis,” broadcast network CNN quoted Cardin as saying.

US progressive leaders praise Biden for withdrawal

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, praised President Joe Biden for completing the withdrawal in Afghanistan, saying that he made one of “most compelling cases against war” in his speech on Tuesday.

“A courageous, thoughtful, comprehensive and necessary articulation,” Jayapal wrote on Twitter, describing Biden’s address.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a left-wing legislator, echoed Jayapal’s comment. “President Biden is right that this decision is not just about Afghanistan. It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries,” Warren said.

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