Biden addresses Afghanistan evacuations in "one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history"

Washington DC – On Friday, President Joe Biden addressed the pressure-filled situation of evacuating citizens and refugees from Afghanistan, as the crisis situation at Kabul airport grew dire over the last few days.

President Joe Biden (r.), joined by Vice President Kamala Harris (l.), delivered remarks on the evacuation of American citizens and vulnerable Afghans in the East Room of the White House on Friday.
President Joe Biden (r.), joined by Vice President Kamala Harris (l.), delivered remarks on the evacuation of American citizens and vulnerable Afghans in the East Room of the White House on Friday.  © IMAGO / MediaPunch

Joe Biden said that evacuation flights from Kabul had been temporarily interrupted to process the overflow of people trying to leave the country after the Taliban's takeover this week.

Now, flights were resumed and the airport had been secured, he added.

Biden said the US had evacuated approximately 13,000 people since its military airlift began on Saturday, and that there would be time to criticize his administration's response later, a nod to his dropping approval rating.

The US is attempting "one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history," he said.

The president promised all US citizens in Afghanistan would be brought home. When asked, he said the promise also extended to Afghans who had supported the US' mission.

He also said the US was also trying to bring as many endangered Afghans as possible to safety, most specifically those who had aided the war effort and worked for aid organizations.

"The United States stands by its commitment that we've made to these people, and it includes other vulnerable Afghans such as women leaders and journalists," Biden said.

Biden reiterated the "mad rush" at the airport of those trying to flee

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, US Vice President Kamala Harris, President Joe Biden, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (from l to r), stood to address the nation on Friday.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, US Vice President Kamala Harris, President Joe Biden, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (from l to r), stood to address the nation on Friday.  © IMAGO / MediaPunch

Taliban checkpoints at the airport had been a major obstacle, Biden explained.

For the most part, the checkpoints have been letting those with American passports through, and the president reiterated a forceful response if the Taliban did not continue to be cooperative.

For Afghan citizens, it may prove to be a different story. Biden said it was a "process to figure out how we deal with the mad rush" of those "not on the priority list."

He suggested it was also difficult to sift through who was an American ally and who simply wanted to flee Afghanistan.

"There's a whole lot of Afghanis who would just as soon come to America, whether they [had] any involvement with the United States in the past at all, rather than stay under Taliban rule or any rule," he said.

Biden claimed the US is "making the same commitment" to evacuate Afghan allies as Americans, but witness reports on the ground have been conflicting about whether this is happening yet.

It was unclear whether Biden's withdrawal deadline for US troops to leave the country by August 31st would be met.

While he assumed that evacuations would be completed by then, the president noted that perhaps military personnel would stay longer to assist, if necessary.

Cover photo: IMAGO / MediaPunch

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