Speed Reads

afghanistan

Biden claims Afghans were reluctant to leave. A hefty visa backlog suggests otherwise.

President Biden on Monday addressed questions about why the United States didn't begin evacuating Afghan civilians sooner now that many who want to leave remain in Kabul, which is again under Taliban control.

There were two reasons for the delay, Biden said. One was that the Afghan government "discouraged" Washington "from organizing a mass exodus to avoid triggering a crisis of confidence." The other, Biden said, was that some Afghans "did not want to leave earlier" because they were "still hopeful for their country."

The latter claim didn't hold up for some observers, who pointed to a hefty backlog of visa applications, which suggests otherwise. The Dispatch's Haley Byrd Wilt added that the quest for visas didn't just pop up ahead of the planned withdrawal of American troops, either. Instead, she writes, "tens of thousands" of people have been trying to get a hold of one for years.