Biden facing scrutiny for asking Ghani to spin ‘perception’ about Afghanistan before Taliban stormed Kabul
By Jenny Goldsberry
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani warned President Biden about “a full-scale invasion” from the Taliban weeks before it happened. Reuters obtained the transcript and recording of the phone call between the two world leaders. A source provided both on the promise of anonymity. The two spoke on July 23rd.
“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,” Ghani said. This was nearly a month before the suicide bombing at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, perpetuated by Pakistan’s ISIS K.
Instead of taking the warning seriously, Biden assured Ghani that the Afghan army would put up a good fight. “You clearly have the best military,” he told Ghani. “You have 300,000 well-armed forces versus 70-80,000 and they’re clearly capable of fighting well.”
When pressed by reporters to answer questions, Psaki refused.
“Well, I’m not going to get into private, diplomatic conversations or leaked transcripts of phone calls,” Psaki said. “But what I can reiterate for you is that we have stated many times that no one anticipated … that the Taliban would be able to take over the country as quickly as they did or that the Afghan National Security Forces would fold as quickly as they did.”
Later, Biden would claim that the Afghan forces were not willing to fight against the Taliban. He would afterwards be censured by the UK parliament for his claim he made in a national address and tweet.
But during the 14-minute phone call, Biden made it clear he cared most about perception. “I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban”” Biden said. “And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”
Ghani fled the country on August 15, and is reportedly hiding out in Uzbekistan.
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