News and Commentary

Taliban Threatens U.S. After Biden Says He’s Considering Extending Withdrawal Deadline: ‘There Would Be Consequences’

It would "provoke a reaction"
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

After President Biden told reporters on Sunday that he might consider extending the August 31 deadline of withdrawing the U.S. military from Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Taliban issued a warning to the United States, saying August 31 is a “red line” and if the deadline is extended, “there would be consequences” and it would “provoke a reaction.”

Biden told reporters on Sunday that he was considering whether to extend the U.S. military’s stay in Afghanistan beyond Aug. 31, saying, “There’s discussions going on among us and the military about extending.  Our hope is we will not have to extend, but there are going to be discussions, I suspect, on how far along we are in the process.”

Biden claimed, “We discussed a lot with the Taliban. They’ve been cooperative in extending some of the perimeter,” adding, “So far the Taliban has not taken action against U.S. forces. So far they have, by and large, followed through on what they said in terms of Americans to pass through, and the like. And I’m sure they don’t control all of their forces. It’s a rag tag force.”

Taliban spokesperson Dr. Suhail Shaheen threatened, “It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that. … If the U.S. or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations — the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” in an interview with Sky News.

Shaheen added, “It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation, it will provoke a reaction.”

Sky News stated that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “set to personally plead” with Biden to extend the deadline.

When Sky News asked Shaheen about the scenes of desperate people fleeing Afghanistan at the prospect of Taliban rule, including some who fell from airplanes they clung to in hope of escape, Shaheen said dismissively:

I assure you it is not about being worried or scared. They want to reside in Western countries and that is a kind of economic migration because Afghanistan is a poor country and 70% of the people of Afghanistan live under the line of poverty, so everyone wants to resettle in Western countries to have a prosperous life. It is not about [being] scared.

Shaheen also dismissed videos purportedly showing the Taliban searching out people door-to-door, saying, “All fake news. I can assure you there are many reports by our opponents claiming what is not based on realities.”

Of the prospects for women under Taliban rule, he claimed, “They will lose nothing. Only if they have no hijab, they will have a hijab … women are required to have the same rights as you have in your country but with a hijab. … Now, women teachers have resumed work. Lost nothing. Female journalists, they have resumed their work. Lost nothing.”

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