Biden defends Afghanistan exit, praises Kabul airlift

The World
US President Joe Biden is shown standing at a podium and speaking into a microphone with his hands raised slightly.

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On Tuesday, 24 hours after the last US military aircraft departed Kabul’s international airport, US President Joe Biden called the airlift of more than 120,000 Americans and Afghans an “extraordinary success,” and defended his administration’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan by the Aug. 31 deadline, nearly 20 years after the US invasion of the country. “I was not going to extend this forever war,” Biden said in an address to the nation. "And I was not going to extend a forever exit.” Biden also declared the end of an era of US military intervention for nation building. After a complete withdrawal, the US and its allies will have to adjust to a new relationship with the Taliban, who could be soon announcing the formation of a government.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will meet President Joe Biden in Washington DC on Wednesday, in what has been described as a show of renewed support for Ukraine’s sovereignty in the face of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Biden is expected to unveil a $60 million military aid package that includes Javelin anti-tank missiles, small arms and ammunition. Zelenskiy, the leader who found himself entangled in the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump, is seeking renewed backing of Ukraine’s bid for NATO membership.

Just days before representatives of the Venezuelan opposition and the government of President Nicolás Maduro are expected to start talks in Mexico City, opposition parties in Venezuela announced in a strategy shift, that they will participate in the November local and regional elections. Under the “Unitary Platform” led by Juan Guaidó, opposition parties had boycotted previous races, arguing that the country lacks conditions for free and fair elections. Now the group says it’s motivated by the serious social and economic challenges the country faces. President Maduro welcomed the announcement as a change from calls for tighter economic sanctions and military intervention of the past two years. Both sides will meet in Mexico City for negotiations aiming to address the political standoff.

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Bright spot

Thanks a million!

Twenty-five-year-old Instagram influencer Tommy Marcus of New York — who goes by the name Quentin Quarantino — used his enormous reach on social media to raise $7 million on GoFundMe for rescue missions in Afghanistan. He used the funds to coordinate “Operation Flyaway,” which evacuated people who said they felt threatened by the Taliban on a charter plane to Uganda.

In case you missed it

Listen: A timeline of 20 years of war in Afghanistan

Taliban special force fighters stand guard outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the US military's withdrawal, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

Taliban special force fighters stand guard outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the US military's withdrawal, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 


Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi/AP

We look at the timeline of Afghanistan's fall to the Taliban, and recap the US’ withdrawal from the country after 20 years of war. Now that the US military has fully withdrawn from Afghanistan, many Afghans who wanted to leave did not manage to get on an evacuation flight. We hear from one woman working for a high-profile women’s empowerment project who was left behind. Plus, Alex Rocha, a tour guide in Cartagena, Colombia, gives his customers more than just a history lesson — he shines a spotlight on Black history.

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