Biden: 'I have seen no question of our credibility' over handling of Afghanistan crisis

Biden defended his handling of the crisis at a press conference on Friday Credit: AP

Joe Biden has denied the US's credibility has been brought into question by the handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, despite intense criticism of the president in the House of Commons earlier this week.

In a press conference discussing the operation to evacuate US citizens and Afghans from the country, the president was asked what his message was to American allies around the world who had criticised the way the withdrawal had been handled.

In response, the president said: "I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world," adding he had spoken with many NATO allies.

He said in his interactions with allied leaders he had received "the exact opposite" of criticism.

Biden is facing criticism both within the US and abroad for a chaotic and often violent scene outside the airport and crowds struggle to reach safety inside.

Frightened civilians at Kabul airport disperse as Afghan soldiers shoot into the air

Biden also said Friday the United States is committed to evacuating all Afghans who assisted the war effort on top of just US citizens - a potentially vast expansion of the administration’s commitments on the airlift so far, given the tens of thousands of Afghan translators and others, and their close family members, seeking evacuation.

NATO leaders have been reluctant to directly criticise Biden for the handling of the crisis but there have been reports of some nations being deeply frustrated with how events have played out.

The president's response to the crisis was harshly criticised by both sides of the Commons on Wednesday when parliament discussed the crisis.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May attacked the president and Boris Johnson during the debate.

Chaotic scenes at Kabul airport have made it difficult to facilitate evacuations. Credit: AP

She said: "In July this year both President Biden and the Prime Minister indicated that they did not think the Taliban was ready or able to take over control of the country.

"Was our intelligence really so poor? Was our understanding of the Afghan government so weak? Was our knowledge of the position on the ground so inadequate? Or did we really believe this? Or did we feel we just had to follow the United States and hope that on a wing and a prayer it'd be all right on the night?"

Mr Johnson also appeared to blame America's unilateral withdrawal from Afghanistan for events in the country, saying the "West could not continue this US-led mission... without American logistics, without US airpower and without American might".Labour Leader Keir Starmer said he was "deeply concerned" by the US President's response to the crisis saying Biden did not "recognise the wider consequences of the action that he’s taken in withdrawing the way he has withdrawn.”

​​Tom Tugendhat, the conservative chair of the foreign affairs committee and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, gave one of the more elegant speeches of the debate and reserved some of his harshest criticisms for the president.

He said: "To see their commander-in-chief call into question the courage of men I fought with – to claim that they ran – is shameful."

Mr Tugendhat's criticisms referenced Biden's initial justification for the pullout.

On Monday Biden said: "The Afghan leaders gave up and fled, the military collapsed without trying to fight."

These responses prove that now is the right time to pull out US troops, he added.

“American soldiers should not be fighting and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves," he said.

Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director-general of London’s Royal United Services Institute, said that Britain - which for much for the war contributed the second-largest number of troops to the mission - “was especially upset that the Biden administration didn’t consult it more fully about the decision to withdraw this summer.”

On Monday when asked whether France of the US was responsible for the crisis, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said: “France hasn’t been in Afghanistan since 2014. There’s no parallel to make with the US involvement.”

Biden is facing criticism for a chaotic and often violent scene outside the airport, as crowds struggle to reach safety inside.

Tens of thousands of people remain to be evacuated ahead of the United States’ August 31 deadline to withdraw its troops from the country, although the pace had picked up overnight.

A defence official said about 5,700 people, including about 250 Americans, were flown out of Kabul aboard 16 C-17 transport planes. On each of the previous two days, about 2,000 people were airlifted.