Joe Biden gave confusing answer on Afghanistan during Democratic presidential debate

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The US President has received widespread criticism for the West’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. A devastating suicide bomb at Hamid Karzai International Airport, claimed by ISIS-K, killed between 79 and 169 Afghans, 13 US military personnel and two Britons on Thursday. Afghans and foreign nationals alike had congregated at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, to try to flee the oppressive Taliban rule.

Mr Biden warned yesterday that another terror attack at Kabul’s airport is “highly likely in the next 24-36 hours” and vowed further airstrikes against ISIS-K targets.

The President confirmed two “high profile” members of the terrorist group had been killed in a retaliatory American airstrike and he expected more violence in Afghanistan ahead of the US’ self-imposed withdrawal deadline tomorrow.

Amid the backlash Mr Biden has received for the West’s chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal, there have been judgements on his mental acuity from domestic and British politicians in recent weeks.

Republican opponent Donald Trump also dubbed the 78-year-old ‘sleepy Joe’ in last year’s presidential election.

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Even in the 2019 Democratic primary a political commentator noted that Mr Biden was “more gaffe-prone” and “confusing” than the two other frontrunners in his age bracket – Bernie Sanders, 79, and Elizabeth Warren, 72.

Vox’s Zach Beauchamp added that when Mr Biden discussed withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan he “made very little sense overall”.

On Afghanistan, Mr Biden said: “The whole purpose of going to Afghanistan was to not have a counterinsurgency, meaning that we’re going to put that country together. 

“It cannot be put together, let me say it again, it will not be put together.

“It’s three different countries. Pakistan owns the three counties – the three provinces in the east.”

Mr Beauchomp said: “The answer struck me as a bit strange, not just verbally in terms of shifting between ‘countries’ and ‘counties’ and ‘provinces’, but substantively – the idea that Afghanistan is actually three distinct countries that cannot be meaningfully united. 

“Afghanistan does have three major geographic regions, but it’s not clear how important these geographic distinctions are.”

An expert, Steve Saideman, who is the Paterson chair of international affairs at Carleton University and author of two books on the war in Afghanistan, also told Vox he thought Mr Biden’s answer was strange.

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Mr Saideman said: “When talking about Afghanistan and reaching an agreement, I have never heard anyone refer to three regions. 

“While federalism will probably play a role, the numbers there are around 30 or so for all of the provinces, not three. 

“Biden might have confused Afghanistan with Iraq.”

In the Noughties Mr Biden proposed splitting Iraq into three distinct territories based on ethno-religious allegiances – a Sunni, Shia and Kurdish region.

Yesterday, the President and First Lady Jill Biden were at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware as the bodies of 13 American troops, who died in Thursday’s terrorist attack at Kabul’s airport, returned to US soil.

The troops who were killed by the suicide attack were between the ages of 20 and 31.

One of those who died was a 20-year-old Marine from Wyoming, who had been expecting his first child in three weeks. 

Four others were also 20, born months before the 9/11 attacks in New York which triggered the West’s 20-year military involvement in Afghanistan.

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