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Today was one of the hardest Sundays for Joe Biden since he assumed the Presidency of the United States. He attended with his wife, the first lady Jill Biden, to the solemn transfer of the 13 soldiers killed in the double attack on the Kabul airport last Thursday from the Dover military base in Delaware. Earlier, both met with the families of the victims, hit hard by explosions in which more than 170 people lost their lives in the Afghan capital.
It was many minutes of silence on a gray, windy day. The hand on the chest next to the authorities -including the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin– and the sustained military salute. Absolute retreat in the brief walk of the six soldiers carrying the coffin of each deceased comrade to a van. And from there to its final destination in various parts of the country, from California to Texas through Missouri, Ohio, Utah, Wyoming and Tennessee. An overwhelming act.
“It is part of a process. It is a welcoming ceremony for fallen soldiers, a devastating day,” he noted. Mark Hertling, retired lieutenant general of the US Army, in an interview with CNN. Biden, who did not speak during the transfer, said in a statement that “the 13 service members we lost were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals, and at the same time saved the lives of others. “He credited” their courage and selflessness “with having been able to get” more than 117,000 people at risk “out of Kabul.
Of the 13 deceased members, 11 were Marines, one was an Army soldier and another belonged to the Navy. The youngest was 20 and the oldest was 31.. Still fresh, the image posted on Instagram by the 23-year-old Marine Nicole Gee holding a baby in her arms at Kabul airport. “I love my job,” wrote the young sergeant. Hunter Lpez, a 22-year-old soldier from Indio, California, was able to share his contribution to the cause with his parents before he was killed. He carried an Afghan boy for several kilometers to safety during the evacuation process.
It is the first time that Biden has to face such an act as president, although he already knows what it is like to do so as vice president under the mandate of Barack Obama. Once the transfer in Delaware was completed, the president returned to the White House to monitor the situation in Kabul, where there was a US drone attack on a suicide bomber following the warning from Biden himself.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said this Sunday that it is unlikely that the US will keep diplomats in Kabul once the military contingent leaves next Tuesday, which will put an end to 20 years of presence in the Asian country. It is about the closure – it is not known whether temporary or permanent – of one of the largest American embassies in the world.
Until a few days ago, Biden’s intentions in this regard were unclear. Blinken indicated that the US would continue to maintain “the commitment to continue helping people who want to leave Afghanistan and who have not left by September 1,” he said. “There is no deadline for that effort. And we have ways, mechanisms to help facilitate the ongoing departure of people from Afghanistan if they decide to leave. “
The next step might be to open a diplomatic mission in a nearby country as part of a supporting infrastructure to help future refugees if the Talibn stay in power. Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates have sounded like possible options. Also Qatar, home to a large US military base and where thousands of refugees have been arriving from Kabul.
It is still a setback for Washington. US troops retaken the embassy in December 2001 during the invasion of the country. It had been closed since 1989 after the withdrawal of Soviet troops.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism