Afghanistan Update: 6:30 PM (Eastern Time) 16 August, 2021

President Joe Biden spoke publicly today about the situation in Afghanistan. Biden made remarks to the nation but took no questions from reporters. Instead, the president made a quick exit off the stage and then returned to Camp David. Biden returned to the White House as pressure was increasing on him to address events in Afghanistan. Biden laid blame for the swift collapse on a number of people and organizations, including the Afghan military. It was only a month ago when Biden assured Americans that Afghan troops were ready to take over for US forces. Biden went on to say he stood behind the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan but admitted his administration was surprised by the pace of the Taliban’s advance. The president also said he has made it clear that any attempt by the Taliban to disrupt evacuation operations at the airport will be met with force.

At Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, air operations resumed a short time ago. All flights were halted earlier in the day after hundreds of Afghans attempted to board departing flights that carried foreign nationals. The scene on the ramp dissolved into chaos and forced the suspension of flights while US troops moved in to control the crowd and make certain the airport grounds were secure afterward. The Biden administration has ordered an additional 1,000 troops to Afghanistan to reinforce the units now there. These troops will come from the battalion of paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division that is now in Kuwait.

On the international front, Russia has let it be known that the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Taliban will depend on their actions now and in the coming weeks. Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov will meet with a representative of the Taliban Tuesday to discuss the security of the Russian diplomatic mission. China’s adopting a more open position by stating it is willing to develop ‘friendly relations’ with Afghanistan’s new leaders. “China respects the right of the Afghan people to independently determine their own destiny and is willing to continue to develop … friendly and cooperative relations with Afghanistan,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told journalists in Beijing earlier today.

One thought on “Afghanistan Update: 6:30 PM (Eastern Time) 16 August, 2021

  1. Pingback: Opinion: A Year with Biden - The Elkins Round Table

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