United States President Joe Biden on Thursday said the Taliban have not changed but are going through an "existential crisis" about whether they want legitimacy on the global stage as they've taken over Afghanistan.
In an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," Biden said that he's "not sure" that the Taliban want to be "recognized by the international community as being a legitimate government."
He also said that the threat from al-Qaida and their affiliate organizations is "greater in other parts of the world than it is in Afghanistan, adding that it's "not rational" to ignore the "looming problems" posed by al-Qaida affiliates in Syria or East Africa, where he said the threat to the US is "significantly greater." "We should be focusing on where the threat is the greatest," Biden said, in defense of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Biden also pushed back against concerns about the treatment of women and girls in the country, arguing that it's "not rational" to try to protect women's rights around the globe through military force. Instead, it should be done through "diplomatic and international pressure" on human rights abusers to change their behavior.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration suspended all arms sales to the government of Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the war-torn country.
In a notice to defense contractors, the State Department's Political/Military Affairs Bureau said pending or undelivered arms transfers to Afghanistan had been put under review, reported ABC News.
"In light of rapidly evolving circumstances in Afghanistan, the Directorate of Defense Sales Controls is reviewing all pending and issued export licenses and other approvals to determine their suitability in furthering world peace, national security and the foreign policy of the United States," it said.
Earlier in the day, Biden said he is committed to keeping US troops in Afghanistan until every American is evacuated, even if that means maintaining a military presence there beyond the August 31 deadline for withdrawal.
Up to 15,000 Americans remain in Afghanistan after the Taliban took full control of the nation, reported ABC News.
The Biden administration has received criticism for the scenes of violence and disorder in recent days as thousands attempted to flee while the Taliban advanced.
In related news, a significant majority of Americans doubt that the war in Afghanistan was worthwhile.
According to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, roughly two-thirds said they did not think America's longest war was worth fighting, the poll shows. Meanwhile, 47 per cent approve of Biden's management of international affairs, while 52 per cent approve of Biden on national security.
The poll was reportedly conducted August 12-16 as the two-decade war in Afghanistan ended with the Taliban returning to power and capturing Kabul.
(With AP inputs)
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