It was just months ago when the leaders of G7 gathered in Cornwall, for a series of meetings and glossy photo op at the Ocean shore. At the time, nothing suggested that the most powerful countries of the Western Alliance will meet at the eleventh hour to put pressure on the U.S. to extend the evacuation deadline beyond August 31 in Afghanistan.
“Our first priority is to complete the evacuation of our citizens and those Afghans who have assisted our efforts over the last 20 years,” PM Johnson said ahead of the G7 emergency meeting today. “Together with our partners and allies, we will continue to use every humanitarian and diplomatic lever to safeguard human rights and protect the gains made over the last two decades. The Taliban will be judged by their deeds and not their words,” he added.
On August 18, at the emergency session on Afghanistan in the UK Parliament, the PM said that “The West could not continue this US-led mission, a mission conceived and executed in support and defence of America, without American logistics, without US air power and without American might.”
Germany, France, and U.K. need more time to make sure to evacuate their people out of Afghanistan, but the Taliban warned yesterday that they want the U.S. troops to leave by August 31. Otherwise, Taliban said, the U.S. overstaying will have “consequences”.
Pentagon echoed Biden’s remarks on evacuation deadline extension by saying that the U.S.. focus is on “getting this done by the end of the month.”
From August 23 at 3:00 AM EDT to August 24 at 3:00 AM EDT, a total of approximately 21,600 people were evacuated from Kabul. This is the result of 37 US military flights (32 C-17s and 5 C-130s) which carried approximately 12,700 evacuees, and 57 coalition flights which carried 8,900 people.
Since August 14, the U.S. has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 58,700 people. Since the end of July, we have re-located approximately 63,900 people.
The UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said this morning on Sky News that “any extension is unlikely”. He admitted on BBC yesterday that his country has hours, not weeks to evacuate people and that not everyone will be able to get out.
Will Biden do the right thing and extend the evacuation deadline? Will the U.S. troops stay to oversee the evacuation past August 31? The President is set to make a decision in the coming hours.