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Taliban Refuses Extension For U.S. Withdrawal, Demands Americans Stop Evacuating Afghan Nationals
TOPSHOT - Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid gestures during a press conference in Kabul on August 24, 2021 after the Taliban stunning takeover of Afghanistan. (Photo by Hoshang Hashimi / AFP) (Photo by HOSHANG HASHIMI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Taliban are refusing to allow the United States to extend their withdrawal deadline, demanding that the U.S. military leave Afghanistan by August 31st, as promised by the Biden administration, despite a reported face-to-face meeting with top Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials on Monday.

The Taliban are also demanding that the U.S. stop evacuating Afghan nationals and, instead, focus on retrieving Americans.

“As a desperate U.S. effort to evacuate Americans from Afghanistan gained momentum on Monday, Taliban leaders rejected a suggestion from President Biden that American forces might remain past an Aug. 31 deadline to complete the operation, injecting fresh urgency into an already frantic process,” the New York Times reported.

Thousands of individuals were evacuated overnight, the White House says, and more Air Force planes are headed to Kabul in order to speed up the withdrawal process, but “American officials are increasingly worried that even with the vast number of Afghans, Americans, and people of other nationalities evacuated in recent days — a total of about 10,400 people in the 24 hours from Sunday to Monday alone, according to the White House — many still remain to be rescued,” the Times noted.

Just 4,000 Americans — of an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 — have been rescued since the pullout from Kabul began following a lightning-fast Taliban takeover, according to a leaked State Department cable.

As of Tuesday morning, the Taliban are “no longer allowing Afghans to go to Kabul airport,” according to a BBC report. They are also demanding that the United States focus on retrieving only its own citizens, even if they remain in Afghanistan past the August 31st deadline.

“We are not in favor of allowing Afghans to leave,” a Taliban spokesman said Tuesday. The BBC noted that the spokesman claimed that evacuating Afghans is a “violation” of the U.S,’s pullout agreement.

This is despite what appear to be significant efforts on the part of the Biden administration to force the Taliban to allow them more time to evacuate the thousands who want to leave. On Monday, The Washington Post reported, “CIA Director William J. Burns held a secret meeting in Kabul with the Taliban’s de facto leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar, in the highest-level face-to-face encounter between the Taliban and the Biden administration since the militants seized the Afghan capital, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomacy.”

It is not clear whether the Biden administration will demand to stay in Afghanistan if Americans remain trapped and “stranded” by evacuation efforts, and an increasingly volatile situation outside the Kabul airport. The State Department told Afghans with Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) not to travel to the Kabul airport.

Tuesday morning, President Joe Biden said he was adamant about sticking to the August 31st timeline.

That puts the United States in a precarious situation, particularly if just a fraction of Americans have been rescued. The administration ramped up efforts to evacuate Americans trapped beyond the U.S. military’s perimeter surrounding the Kabul airport, but there are still reportedly thousands to pull from Afghanistan.

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