The Taliban leadership entered Kabul, preparing to take full control of Afghanistan two decades after their expulsion by the US military.
The militant group seized the presidential palace and said it planned to declare a new “Islamic emirate of Afghanistan” soon. Hours earlier, US President Ashraf Ghani had fled the country.
“We never expected to achieve such a victory – we must show humility before Allah,” Deputy Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said in a video. message congratulating his fighters and the nation on Twitter Monday. “Now is the time when we are going to be tested on how we serve and secure our people, and secure their good lives and futures to the best of our ability. “
The speed of the collapse of the Afghan government shocked NATO allies and drew condemnation from both sides of the US political divide over how President Joe Biden’s administration appeared to be blinded by the easy advance of the Taliban. Dozens of countries issued a joint statement on Monday calling on “those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan” to allow Afghans and foreigners to leave safely if they wish, to keep them safe. open borders and maintain calm.
As the Al Jazeera network broadcast what it said were live footage of armed Taliban fighters roaming the palace and posing at desks, Kabul airport became the scene of the planned exit of most of the staff from the United States Embassy, symbolizing the end of a two-decade engagement sparked by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Take (the) advantage
The Taliban swept through Afghanistan within weeks, taking advantage of the vacuum left by the departure of US and NATO forces working against Biden’s August 31 deadline to end America’s longest war. US officials said they were working for an orderly departure.
In a joint statement on Sunday, the Pentagon and the State Department said the United States will expand its presence over the next 48 hours at Kabul International Airport to nearly 6,000 troops to evacuate thousands of American citizens. , as well as local staff and their families.
All Kabul embassy staff have been safely evacuated to the airport and the US military has secured its perimeter, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Sunday evening.
In many cases, the militants have encountered little or no resistance from the US-trained Afghan army. The main provincial centers near Kabul and in the most remote corners of the country fell in rapid succession.
The skies over Kabul were buzzing on Sunday with US military helicopters carrying passengers from the US embassy. The American flag at the Embassy has been lowered. Afghans lined up for money and many headed for the airport, desperate to book a flight out of the country.
“We are moving the men and women from our embassy to a location at the airport,” Blinken told ABC. “This is why the president has sent a number of forces to ensure that, as we continue to reduce our diplomatic presence, we do so in a safe and orderly manner.”
The acting US ambassador was among those evacuated to the airport, the AP reported. The U.S. Embassy said on its website that the airport was catching fire and advised U.S. citizens to take shelter there. CNN earlier reported that Washington would withdraw all embassy staff by Tuesday, leaving a small core of staff to operate from the airport.
” embarrassment “
Senior officials in the Biden administration briefed members of Congress, many of whom were furious at the visible chaos to end a campaign that claimed the lives of an estimated 2,400 US troops and nearly $ 1,000 billion.
“A proud superpower has been reduced to hope that the Taliban will not interfere with our efforts to flee Afghanistan,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. “Terrorists and major competitors like China are watching the embarrassment of a birthed superpower. “
Many analysts agreed that a Taliban takeover was predictable once the United States left, Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, said in an interview. “And this has been true for a decade,” he said. “Unfortunately, that probably means we will have to engage in dialogue with the Taliban.”
The Taliban have sought to take a moderate stance, a spokesperson telling The Associated Press that the group wanted to form an “open and inclusive Islamic government.” Over the weekend, he said he would respect public property, provide a “safe” environment for business, redeploy bureaucrats and military officers and offer amnesty to anyone who “aided the invaders.”
The group also denied reports that it killed prisoners and forced villagers to hand over their daughters to marry Taliban soldiers. During the Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001, women were prohibited from working, attending high school, or appearing in public without a burqa, a garment that covers the wearer’s entire body, head and face.
Yet that has not allayed concerns on the ground, where Taliban fighters have shown signs of resuming their old ways of oppressing women. Members of the Afghan government have expressed anger at Ghani for leaving the country. The country’s official embassy account in India called him a “traitor,” but later deleted the tweet.
Biden said he was blocked by a now-tattered peace deal brokered with the group by the Trump administration, which made the popular decision to repatriate US troops from Afghanistan.
Trump’s deal imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on US forces and “left the Taliban in the strongest military position since 2001,” Biden said in a statement on Saturday.
“I think it’s pretty clear that the Taliban won this war,” Katherine Zimmerman, a foreign and defense policy researcher at the American Enterprise Institute, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “They took 20 years to do it and they have proven that their strategy of patience will survive in the United States.”
by Tony Czuczka & Eltaf Najafizada, Bloomberg