If Joe Biden delays the withdrawal of US troops beyond August 31, the Taliban have warned there will be ‘consequences’.
In little over a week, United States armed forces are scheduled to be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan, which was recently taken control of by Islamic militant group, the Taliban.
However, Biden has been called on to extend the deadline as time runs out to evacuate people from the country.
The Taliban have since issued a warning against Biden’s possible extending of the final withdrawal date.
Dr Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesperson, told Sky News that August 31 is a ‘red line’ and explained that if Biden does extend, ‘that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that’.
He warned that if the US or UK ‘were to seek additional time to continue evacuations’ that the answer would be ‘no’. ‘There would be consequences’, he said.
Shaheen concluded that if the evacuation period was prolonged, it would ‘create a mistrust’ between the Taliban, US and UK. ‘If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction’, he said.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said ‘no nation will be able to get everyone out’. As per the Mail on Sunday, Wallace stressed how due to the US timetable ‘we have no time to lose to get the majority of the people waiting out’. He questioned whether the Americans will be ‘permitted to stay longer’ and that they would have ‘our complete support’ if they were able to.
Subsequently, Boris Johnson is set to make a personal plea with the US President to extend the August 31 deadline. According to Sky News, the prime minister will make his plea during an emergency G7 summit of the world’s most powerful leaders.
Johnson took to Twitter to express how it was ‘vital that the international community works together to ensure safe evacuations, prevent humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people to secure the gains of the last 20 years.’
Scenes at Kabul have been growing more chaotic by the day, with thousands continuing to flock to the city’s airport in a desperate bid to force their way onboard evacuation flights.
Furthermore, in a statement made on Sunday, August 22, The Ministry of Defence announced that seven people have been killed at Hamid Karzai International Airport due to massive crowds and stampedes, as thousands have been trying to escape the militant group.
When questioned about how the scenes at the capital city’s airport have been far from normal during a political transition, Shaheen reportedly dismissed the chaos as economic migration. ‘I assure you it is not about being worried or scared’, he said.
They want to reside in western countries and that is a kind of economic migration because Afghanistan is a poor country and 70% of the people of Afghanistan live under the line of poverty so everyone wants to resettle in western countries to have a prosperous life. It is not about [being] scared.
Despite Shaheen’s claims about not needing to be ‘worried or scared’, fears have been growing among Afghan women and children since the Taliban took over the city and presidential palace, last Sunday, August 15.
There have been reports that doors of prominent women such as bloggers and activists have been marked with paint, and that female journalists have been taken off air on the majority of television networks.
While the Taliban has vowed that women will be permitted to work and study until university level, during the group’s rule from 1996 until 2001, girls were prevented from receiving an education, while women could also only go out in public if they wore full-body coverings and were escorted by a man. Any woman who went against these rules ran the risk of facing brutal punishment, such as public flogging, stoning, amputations and even execution.
Fears are subsequently growing among Afghan women and girls, some of whom have taken to the streets in protest of the Taliban’s return. Innocent Afghans are now left waiting to see if the freedoms gained over the past 20 years will be eradicated and replaced by hardline Islamic fundamentalist law.
Despite growing fears, Shaheen has said women and girls will ‘lose nothing’: ‘Only if they have no hijab, they will have a hijab… women are required to have the same rights as you have in your country but with a hijab.’
He insisted teachers who are women have ‘resumed work’ and that women in Afghanistan have ‘lost nothing’ since the Taliban seized control of the country. The spokesperson added that female journalists have also ‘resumed their work’ and ‘lost nothing’. Female broadcasters have indeed been seen back on air since the militant group’s occupation of the country, however, there have been other accounts by women which appear to contradict Shaheen’s statement.
He went on to question the US and UK’s occupation of the country, ‘They occupy our country. If we occupy your country. What will you say to me? What if I killed your people in your country, what you will say?’
Shaheen reflected that ‘all people suffered a lot’ in his opinion and there was ‘bloodshed’ and ‘destruction’. He concluded: ‘But we say the past is the past. Part of our past history. Now we want to focus on the future.’
On August 22, 3,821 British and Afghan nationals had been evacuated so far from Kabul. It was reported that at that time, around 3,500 people were still waiting to be evacuated from the city.
If you’d like to help those who’ve been affected by the recent devastating events unfolding in Afghanistan, you can make a donation to the UN Refugee Agency United Kingdom here.