President Joe Biden reportedly encouraged then Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to convince the world that his government was holding its own against the Taliban.
According to Reuters, Biden spent part of his last phone call with Ghani stressing the importance of “perception” when it came to the Afghan Security Forces and the government’s ability to prevent the Taliban from taking control of the country. (RELATED: Afghanistan President Blames US Troop Withdrawal For Worsening Security Amid Taliban Gains)
A transcript of the call, reportedly provided to Reuters on condition of anonymity, detailed a July 23 phone call during which Biden pressured Ghani to “change perception” by publicly adopting a new military strategy.
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“I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban. And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture,” Biden reportedly said.
According to the transcript, Biden also pressured Ghani to put a “warrior” like Defense Minister General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi at the forefront, offering to provide additional U.S. air support if he were to project a more competent plan to combat insurgency.
Ghani, according to the published transcripts, pushed back, suggesting that the situation on the ground might need more than just a change in perception.
“Mr. President, we are facing a full-scale invasion, composed of Taliban, full Pakistani planning and logistical support, and at least 10-15,000 international terrorists, predominantly Pakistanis thrown into this, so that dimension needs to be taken account of,” Ghani said.
Ghani went on to say that the Afghan Security Forces would be unable to maintain control without close air support from the United States which Biden reportedly promised to provide if Ghani was able to project a more stable situation.
“We will continue to provide close air support, if we know what the plan is,” Biden reportedly said, adding, “We are going to continue to fight hard, diplomatically, politically, economically, to make sure your government not only survives, but is sustained and grows.”