President Joe Biden offered an apparent quid pro quo to the since-fled president of Afghanistan in the final days leading up to the Taliban takeover of Kabul.
According to the transcript of the final phone call between President Biden and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on July 23 reported by Reuters, Biden instructed his Afghan counterpart to put a defense minister in charge.
“Things aren’t going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban. And there’s a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture,” Biden told President Ghani. “If you empower Bismillah [Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi] to execute a strategy focused on key parts of the population centers … you’re going to get not only more help, but you’re going to get a perception that is going to change.”
Biden went on to pledge consistent air support pending compliance.
“We will continue to provide close air support, if we know what the plan is and what we are doing,” Biden said.
— Papabile (@JustTired6A) September 1, 2021
Throughout the call, transcripts show Biden repeatedly pressed the Afghan president to change the “perception” surrounding the war as the Taliban took provincial capitals one-by-one.
“I don’t know whether you’re aware, just how much the perception around the world is that this is looking like a losing proposition,” Biden said.
So the conclusion I’m asking you to consider is to bring together everyone from [Former Vice President Abdul Rashid] Dostum, to [Former President Hamid] Karzai and in between, if they stand there and say they back the strategy you put together, and put a warrior in charge, you know a military man, [Defense Minister Bismillah] Khan in charge of executing that strategy, and that will change perception, and that will change an awful lot I think.
“Mr. President,” Ghani replied, “We are facing a full-scale invasion, composed of Taliban, full Pakistani planning and logistical support, and at least 10-15,000 international terrorists, predominantly Pakistanis thrown into this, so that dimension needs to be taken account of.”
The Afghan capital of Kabul fell less than four weeks later, on Aug. 15., catching U.S. military leaders by surprise. On Aug. 10, officials warned Kabul’s fall would come within 90 days. Three days later, the timeline accelerated to predict the city’s fall in 72 hours.
President Biden stuck to the military withdrawal date of Aug. 31, a hard deadline the administration kept after the Taliban refused to accept a later date. The two weeks between Kabul’s takeover and the American withdrawal featured constant chaos at the Hamid Karzai International Airport adjacent to dense downtown streets where thousands desperate to flee sought evacuation.
You have to be from Afghanistan or Iran to understand the fear of Islamic regimes that you prefer trying your luck hanging onto the wheels of a military plane than living under sharia laws. Our fear is rational. pic.twitter.com/mO793hsIgP
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) August 16, 2021
Watch: A video shows the moment Afghan citizens dropped from an aircraft near #Kabul airport after clinging on to a US Air Force plane in an attempt to flee the country amid the #Taliban takeover. #Afghanistan https://t.co/2vc7iuFmgj pic.twitter.com/MdrNlasobn
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) August 16, 2021
Thirteen U.S. military service members died last week from a suicide bombing claimed by ISIS-K in the last days of the evacuation efforts.
President Biden admitted Wednesday 10 percent of those who wanted to leave and qualified to leave were left behind under Taliban rule, including an estimated 100 to 200 Americans.
More than 122,000 people were evacuated from the war-torn nation before the withdrawal ended.