Democrat President Joe Biden pressured Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during their last phone call prior to Afghanistan falling to the Taliban to “project a different picture” about what was happening in the fight against the Taliban, according to Reuters.
Reuters reviewed a transcript of the 14-minute July 23rd call and listened to an audio file of it, which it obtained from a source that was not authorized to make the disclosure.
“In the call, Biden offered aid if Ghani could publicly project he had a plan to control the spiraling situation in Afghanistan,” Reuters reported. “The U.S. president also advised Ghani to get buy-in from powerful Afghans for a military strategy going forward, and then to put a ‘warrior’ in charge of the effort, a reference to Defense Minister General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi.”
“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 told Ghani, per the report. “And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”
Biden reportedly said that holding a press conference with Afghanistan’s top political figures would “change perception,” which he thought would change what was happening on the ground.
“We will continue to provide close air support, if we know what the plan is,” Biden allegedly told Ghani.
However, The Wall Street Journal reported that the reason the Afghan military fell apart was because the administration “pulled its air support, intelligence and contractors servicing Afghanistan’s planes and helicopters,” which “meant the Afghan military simply couldn’t operate anymore.”
Reuters said that the U.S. had provided air support in a mission days before the call between the two leaders, although it noted that the U.S. had closed its main airbase in Bagram in early July, a move that eventually led to the release of terrorists who were imprisoned there. The Wall Street Journal’s report did not specify when exactly the U.S. pulled its air support from Afghanistan.
Ghani reportedly warned the Biden administration that Afghanistan was “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.”
Reuters noted that a second call was placed to Ghani later that day by top officials in the Biden administration, including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, and U.S. Central Command Commander General Frank McKenzie.
“The perception in the United States, in Europe and the media sort of thing is a narrative of Taliban momentum, and a narrative of Taliban victory,” Milley reportedly told Ghani. “And we need to collectively demonstrate and try to turn that perception, that narrative around.”
McKenzie is said to have warned during the call that they needed “to move quickly” because time was not their friend.