Psaki hits back at Blair criticism on Afghanistan saying Biden is talking to ‘current’ UK leader

White House says president has been in talks with Boris Johnson not one of his predecessors

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Tuesday 24 August 2021 22:32
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Psaki brushes aside scathing Op-Ed by Tony Blair

Jen Psaki has hit back at Tony Blair’s criticism on Afghanistan saying Joe Biden is talking to the “current” UK leader.

The former Prime Minister, who sent troops into the country in 2001 after 9/11, has slammed the US “abandonment” of Afghanistan and branded the withdrawal ““tragic, dangerous, and unnecessary.”

But the US president’s White House press secretary strongly pushed back against Mr Blair’s essay on the matter when she spoke to reporters on Monday.

“The President has been in touch directly with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is the current leader of the UK,” she said when asked about it at her daily briefing.

Mr Blair wrote in the op-ed, published by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, that the Taliban’s sweeping return to power could leave Western allies doubting their “strategic will.”

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, wearing a face covering due to Covid-19, leaves the BBC in central London on June 6, 2021, after appearing on the BBC political programme The Andrew Marr Show

“The world is now uncertain of where the West stands because it is so obvious that the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan in this way was driven not by grand strategy but by politics,” he wrote.

And he said that Mr Biden’s decision to withdraw was done as an “obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars.”

He also said that the chaos seen in Afghanistan would only serve to strengthen the efforts of jihadists and help China, Russia and Iran.

The Biden administration has defended the US withdrawal amid chaotic scenes in Kabul as desperate Afghans and Americans tried to leave the country following the collapse of the national government and security forces.

Mr Biden said in a speech on Tuesday that around 70,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul since 14 August.

The president says that the US is set to complete its operations by 31 August, but that he has asked the Pentagon and the State Department for contingency plans to adjust the timetable, should that become necessary.

And he added: “The completion by 31 August depends on the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the airport to those who are transporting out and no disruptions to our operation.”

“The sooner we finish the better.”

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