WASHINGTON, D.C. – A newly released transcript shows that President Joe Biden pressured Afghan president Ashraf Ghani to change the “perception” of the strength of the rising Taliban, even as Ghani reported a “full-scale invasion.”
Reuters has obtained and released a transcript of a 14-minute phone call held on July 23 between Biden and Ghani, the last phone communication between the pair, held mere weeks before the fall of Kabul.
“Reuters reviewed a transcript of the presidential phone call and has listened to the audio to authenticate the conversation.
“The materials were provided on condition of anonymity by a source who was not authorized to distribute it.”
Reuters got transcripts of Biden's last call with Ghani + a Ghani/Sullivan/Milley/McKenzie call, all on 7/23.
-US side concerned about "perception" Taliban was winning and need to change narrative.
-Biden wanted Ghani to appear with Karzai. Ghani said no.https://t.co/bGhxAWTQ9M
— Dave Lawler (@DavidLawler10) August 31, 2021
During the call, according to the transcript, Biden told Ghani:
“Hey look, I want to make it clear that I am not a military man any more than you are, but I have been meeting with our Pentagon folks, and our national security people, as you have with ours and yours, and as you know and I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things aren’t going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban.”
Apparently indicating that he was more concerned with optics than facts, Biden added:
“And there’s a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”
This revelation from Reuters calls to mind Biden’s speech of August 31, where he suggested that the U.S. was blindsided by the Taliban’s ability to rise rapidly to power, against Afghan resistance.
He told America:
“In April, I made a decision to end this war. As part of that decision, we set the date of Aug. 31 for American troops to withdraw.
“The assumption was that more than 300,000 Afghan national security forces that we had trained over the past two decades and equipped would be a strong adversary in their civil wars with the Taliban.”
“That assumption, that the Afghan government would be able to hold on for a period of time beyond military drawdown, turned out not to be accurate.”
“But I still instructed our national security team to prepare for every eventuality, even that one. And that’s what we did.
“So we were ready when the Afghan security forces, after two decades of fighting for their country and losing thousands of their own, did not hold on as long as anyone expected.”
In addition, a look back to July 8, 2021 shows Biden explaining that a Taliban takeover was not “inevitable,” saying:
“No, it is not [inevitable].
“Because you have, the Afghan troops have 300,000 well-equipped, as well-equipped as any army in the world, and an air force, against something like 75,000 Taliban.”
Biden in July: No, a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is not inevitable. pic.twitter.com/veJNSrIUCM
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) August 11, 2021
Biden added later in the press conference:
“The Taliban is not the south — the North Vietnamese army. They’re not — they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability.
“There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”
As we now know, Biden’s public assumptions and predictions were far from accurate, as the Taliban quickly overran Afghanistan, prompting Ghani to flee the country, and a chaotic withdrawal ensued that sadly included the deaths of 13 service members and dozens of Afghan citizens at the hands of suicide bombers.
Biden’s now-public conversation with Ghani, however, calls into question whether Biden was hiding his awareness of the Taliban’s strength from his fellow Americans, or whether he was truly in the dark about it. Neither option is a praiseworthy one.
Portions of the transcript suggest that either Biden might have been unaware of the Taliban’s potential to defeat Afghan forces, or he perhaps chose to project to Ghani a confidence in Afghan forces.
Biden told Ghani:
“You clearly have the best military, you have 300,000 well-armed forces versus 70-80,000 and they’re clearly capable of fighting well, we will continue to provide close air support, if we know what the plan is and what we are doing. And all the way through the end of August, and who knows what after that.”
So, lie? Reuters reports that in final call, Joe Biden told Afghan President Ghani ‘to project a different picture’ about what was actually happening https://t.co/uSff1Ww2iK
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) September 1, 2021
“We are also going to continue to make sure your air force is capable of continuing to fly and provide air support.
“In addition to that we are going to continue to fight hard, diplomatically, politically, economically, to make sure your government not only survives, but is sustained and grows because it is clearly in the interest of the people of Afghanistan, that you succeed and you lead. “
Then Biden again doubled down on the world’s “perception” of the Taliban’s capabilities, saying:
“But I really think, I don’t know whether you’re aware, just how much the perception around the world is that this is looking like a losing proposition, which it is not, not that it necessarily is that, but so the conclusion I’m asking you to consider is to bring together everyone from [Former Vice President Abdul Rashid] Dostum, to [Former President Hamid] Karzai and in between, if they stand there and say they back the strategy you put together, and put a warrior in charge, you know a military man, [Defense Minister Bismillah] Khan in charge of executing that strategy, and that will change perception, and that will change an awful lot I think.”
Bombshell leak! https://t.co/IC4yRfnkNW
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) September 1, 2021
Ghani, however, asserted to Biden in the call that he was “facing a full-scale invasion,” and he asked that his “air force be front loaded.”
“We need to make some gestures to rally everybody together so if you could assign the national security advisor or the Pentagon, anyone you wish to work with us on the details, so our expectations particularly regarding your close air support. There are agreements with the Taliban that we [or “you” this is unclear] are not previously aware of, and because of your air force was extremely cautious in attacking them.
“And the last point, I just spoke again to Dr. Abdullah earlier, he went to negotiate with the Taliban, the Taliban showed no inclination. We can get to peace only if we rebalance the military situation.”
Was Biden truly blissfully unaware of the Taliban’s capabilities, despite Ghani’s suggestions to the contrary, even as he assured the American people that the Taliban would not take over?
Or does his concern for circumventing “perception” of a strong Taliban indicate that he was well aware of the Taliban’s strength, but lied about it, wanting to appear in charge as he executed the poorly handled pullout from Afghanistan?
So… Biden* told the Afghani President to lie so he could look good at pulling out of Afghanistan even though he knew doing so would cause the country to collapse?
Trump got impeached for FAR LESS on a phone call. 🙄 https://t.co/CzIqxqdFGr
— Matthew Kadish (@MatthewKadish) September 1, 2021
Neither option is entirely clear at this point, especially when one takes into consideration the president’s well-known mental lapses.
What is clear, however, is that Joe Biden showed much more concern about spin and optics than the actual truth about the Taliban’s potential.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, reportedly mirrored Biden’s concerns about “perception.”
In a call also obtained by Reuters, Milley, Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and U.S. Central Command commander General Frank McKenzie, spoke with Ghani later that same day in July.
Reuters reports that during that call, too, “an area of focus was the global perception of events on the ground in Afghanistan.”
Reuters adds that Milley told Ghani:
“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.
“And we need to collectively demonstrate and try to turn that perception, that narrative around.”
“I do not believe time is our friend here. We need to move quickly.”
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Anti-Taliban “resistance group” says White House ignored their calls, stayed silent as Afghanistan fell
Originally published August 30, 2021
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN- The Biden administration has made it clear that they don’t give a rip about the Afghan people being left behind as they turn tail and run, leaving countless numbers of Americans and Afghan allies behind.
So little do they care that the administration has cut off communication with the National Resistance Front, an anti-Taliban resistance group, the Washington Examiner reports.
— Sophia Zarin (@SophiaZarin) August 26, 2021
According to Ahmad Massoud, spokesman for the resistance movement, he said the Biden administration hasn’t been in touch since Taliban insurgents gained control of Afghanistan.
“I tried to reach out. Unfortunately, we haven’t received any type of response from them,” said Ali Nazary, head of foreign relations for the group of resistance fighters. “We don’t see an interest at the moment for the resistance.”
In a statement to the Examiner, Nazary said that the stronghold held by the resistance fighters in northeastern Afghanistan’s Panjshir province could be used as a point of refuge for those stuck in Kabul, where a Thursday terrorist attack killed hundreds of people, including at least 13 U.S. service members, while injuring at least 18 more.
Today has proved that the Taliban have not changed and what living under their rule looks like. Now more than ever, the only hope lays in Panjshir with the National Resistance Front under @AhmadMassoud01 – we cannot surrender and live in this dystopia https://t.co/tQZo35Rxn7
— Maria Hayat (@mariahayat_) August 26, 2021
Nazary said it had been “months” since he last had contact with the White House and called the silence a “lack of interest” from the Biden administration.
“They know I’m here. But we haven’t received any interest,” he said, according to the New York Post.
“They know I’m here. But we haven’t received any interest,” said @alinazary, head of foreign relations for Afghanistan’s National Resistance Front. He said the group is formed of Washington’s “last allies” in the country. https://t.co/nlsVL0b7tD
— Katherine Doyle (@katiadoyl) August 26, 2021
The National Resistance Front is thus far the only group providing any type of resistance to the Taliban.
“We haven’t received an invitation. We haven’t received any requests. It is surprising to us that this is the only resistance against the Taliban, the only force left against terrorism, the only force that is providing safe haven for thousands…but they haven’t given this option any consideration.”
After Thursday’s terrorist attacks outside the Kabul airport, Nazary suggested that groups stranded in the country could be sent to Panjshir.
“We believe the latest development with the suicide bombings make our case stronger because we’ve been warning the current administration, we’ve been warning all our Western partners…that international terrorism is stronger compared to 2001,” Nazary continued. “It shouldn’t be ignored,” the Examiner reported.
The resistance group should not be ignored in that it could provide an important ally for the United States and other countries who still have people stranded in the war-torn country.
Nazary said the resistance movement could be an essential partner in counterterrorism efforts inside Afghanistan.
The Biden administration has cut off communication with the anti-Taliban resistance group the National Resistance Front since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan nearly two weeks ago.#ImpeachBiden https://t.co/BK0uQYjttw
— Trish 🇺🇸 (@Trumpxoxoxo) August 27, 2021
“These are the last allies the United States has. If these allies are not on the ground, it will be very difficult to fight terrorism inside Afghanistan in the future,” he said. “There is still a threat…This is just the beginning.”
On Wednesday, head White House media propagandist Jen Psaki was asked if the administration had been in contact with the resistance fighters and Massoud in particular, and whether they had the administration’s support “or are they on their own?”
Psaki, as she always does punted the question.
“It’s a great question. I’ll have to talk to our team on the ground to see if there’s any more specifics we can provide.”
On Thursday after the terrorist attack, the White House was once again pressed on the question if they would be reaching out to Massoud. They did not provide any further details when asked.
The administration has however been in contact with Taliban leaders as the U.S. gets ready to grab its collective ankles and meet the random Aug. 31 deadline for the U.S. to leave the country.
According to Reuters, the Resistance and Taliban leaders engaged in a round of talks on Wednesday in order to get some kind of negotiated governance agreement both sides could come to an agreement on.
“We want to make the Taliban realize that the only way forward is through negotiation,” Massoud told Reuters.
Both sides agreed to a cease fire of sorts until they have the opportunity to engage in a second round of talks.
Last week, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan lied to the Washington Examiner when he claimed U.S. trained Afghan forces had dissolved as the Taliban advanced through the country.
“Afghan forces appear to have essentially—are no longer operating as a coherent entity,” Sullivan said, however would not answer a question on the relationship with the Afghan army going forward.
In response to the terrorist attack, Biden made the claim that it was “ISIS-K” that carried out the attack and they were “enemies” with the Taliban. It was of course the Taliban that let the ISIS terrorists out of prison at Bagram Air Base, which U.S. forces abandoned ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline.
As of Friday, the U.S. had evacuated around 105,000 people, both Americans and Afghan allies since Aug. 14 according to a White House official. It is believed there are still some 1,500 Americans in the country, although the State Department has no idea exactly how many there are.
The New York Post said it reached out to the White House for comment, however they didn’t receive a response.
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