Schiff Reveals The Possibility Of Getting All Americans Out Of Afghanistan By Deadline
Rep. Adam Schiff (California), who chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said that it was “very unlikely” that the United States will be able to evacuate all Americans from Afghanistan by the end of the month, following a meeting with officials from the intelligence community.
August 31 is the deadline announced by President Joe Biden to move all Americans from Kabul as Taliban forces continue to strengthen its grip in the country.
“I think it’s very unlikely given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated, the number of SIVs, the number of others who are members of the Afghan press, civil society leaders, women leaders, it’s hard for me to imagine all of that can be accomplished between now and the end of the month,” the top House Democrat said.
Schiff noted that despite efforts to increase the capacity of airlifts from Afghanistan, an end of the month target still seems far-fetched.
“I am encouraged to see the numbers of people evacuated, increasing readily to the point where we evacuated 11,000 people in a single day. Nonetheless, given the logistical difficulties of moving people to the airport, and the limited number of work arounds, it’s hard for me to see that being fully complete by the end of the month,” he added, noting that American forces should remain in Afghanistan until all Americans are evacuated.
“I’m certainly of the view that we maintain a military presence as long as it’s necessary to get all U.S. persons out, and to meet our moral and ethical obligation to our Afghan partners,” Schiff said.
Following a classified @HouseIntel briefing on Afghanistan, @RepAdamSchiff was asked if he thinks all evacuations can happen before August 31. “I think it's possible but I think it's very unlikely,” Schiff said. pic.twitter.com/Q6RnVQETSS
— Kyle Stewart (@KyleAlexStewart) August 24, 2021
However, the Taliban has shot down this proposal announcing that they will not accept “additional time to continue evacuations” — and even warned the US that there would be “consequences” for doing so.
Reports cited Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban delegation in Doha, saying that Biden’s move means “extending occupation” and that is “a red line.”
Meanwhile, Schiff admitted that detecting terror threats from Afghanistan will be challenging once American forces are out of the country.
“I think the intelligence community has always been very sober about our capacity to detect and deter a terrorism threat from within Afghanistan once we have no military force there, once our military footprint has been reduced to effectively zero,” he said.
Schiff also expressed concern about ISIS-K conducting an assault on the airport where airport evacuations are taking place.
US don’t know number of Americans in Afghanistan
“I think the threat to the airport is very real and very substantial,” the Democratic lawmaker said. “And this has been a concern of mine for for some days now that this would make a very attractive target for ISIS-K or for elements of Al-Qaeda, but most particularly ISIS-K, an opportunity to attack both the US forces as well as Afghan nationals, and indeed, the Taliban as well, and just cause chaos, that might prolong the US stay in a way that ISIS-K believes might suit their interests.”
“So it’s a very real risk, I think, to our aircraft, to our personnel, to people who have congregated around the airport. Whenever you have a mass gathering like that, it is an opportunity for improvised and other explosive devices. So it’s a real danger,” he went on.
Meanwhile, despite all the pronouncements of evacuating Americans in Afghanistan, the Biden administration doesn’t know how many Americans remain in the country.
“We cannot give you a precise number,” Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, earlier said — noting that the US had been in contact with a “few thousand Americans” and planning arrangements to evacuate them from Afghanistan.
Sullivan said a “significant majority” of the 37,000 individuals evacuated by the US troops over the past days are Afghan civilians and allies.
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