After a meteoric advance, the Taliban seized the Afghan capital on Sunday, while President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. On Monday, it was time for the evacuation of foreign nationals, while chaos reigned in the streets of Kabul.
Afghanistan was in the hands of the Taliban on Monday August 16 after the collapse of government forces and the flight abroad of President Ashraf Ghani, who acknowledged their victory at the end of a war of nearly 20 years.
“The Taliban have won,” the president, who is now believed to be in Tajikistan, admitted Sunday evening, while the insurgents celebrated a military victory as swift as it was complete by invading the presidential palace in Kabul.
In a video posted on social networks, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, co-founder of the Taliban, hailed the victory of the Islamist movement. “Now is the time to assess and prove, now we have to show that we can serve our nation and provide safety and comfort in life,” he said.
Wind of panic
The dreaded entry of the fighters caused a wave of panic in the capital, where thousands of residents were trying to flee, particularly congregating at the airport where scenes of chaos were reported.
The American flag was removed early Monday from the United States embassy in Kabul and “brought to safety with embassy staff” gathered at the airport awaiting evacuation, the Washington said. State Department and the Pentagon.
“We can confirm that the safe evacuation of all embassy staff is now complete,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. The perimeter of the airport is “secured by the US military,” he added.
“Over the next 48 hours, we will have extended our security presence to nearly 6,000 soldiers with a mission focused solely on facilitating these efforts and taking over air traffic control,” he said.
“Tomorrow (Monday) and over the next few days, we will be transferring out of the country thousands of US citizens who were residing in Afghanistan, as well as local staff of the US mission in Kabul and their families, as well as other Afghans in particular. vulnerable “, according to the text.
Security Council meeting
Many other diplomats and foreign nationals were also hastily evacuated from Kabul on Sunday. The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. GMT on Monday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
The debacle is total for the Afghan security forces, yet funded for 20 years with hundreds of billions of dollars by the United States. In ten days, the radical Islamist movement, which launched an offensive in May with the start of the withdrawal of foreign troops, especially American troops, took control of almost all of Afghanistan.
And this 20 years after being driven out by a coalition led by the United States because of its refusal to deliver the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Chaos at the airport
As the day progressed on Sunday, panic quickly gripped Kabul as the insurgents, who were already encircling the city, approached it and then entered it. Shops closed, traffic jams appeared, police were seen swapping their uniforms for civilian clothes.
A huge mob has formed with most of the banks, with people looking to withdraw their money while there is still time.
On social media, videos showed groups of heavily armed Taliban fighters patrolling major cities, waving white flags and waving to the population.
Other videos apparently shot at the airport showed scenes of a crush with huge crowds swarming the tarmac in hopes of getting on a plane at all costs to flee the country.
Fear also reigned among the tens of thousands of people who had fled to Kabul in recent weeks to flee the violence in their region.
When they ruled this country, between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban imposed their ultra-rigorous version of Islamic law. They have repeatedly promised that if they return to power, they will respect human rights, especially those of women, in accordance with “Islamic values”.
But in the newly conquered areas, they have already been accused of many atrocities: murder of civilians, beheadings, kidnapping of teenage girls to marry them by force, among others.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “particularly concerned about the future of women and girls, whose hard-won rights must be protected”, called on all parties to the conflict to “exercise the utmost restraint”.
“This is not Saigon,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on CNN, referring to the fall of the Vietnamese capital in 1975, a memory still painful for the United States.
But the pill is bitter for Washington, whose image emerges deeply damaged and which deplores 2,500 people killed, as well as a bill of more than 2,000 billion dollars.
US President Joe Biden has defended his decision to end 20 years of war, the longest in America. “I am the fourth president to govern with an American military presence in Afghanistan (…) I do not want, and I will not, transmit this war to a fifth,” he said on Sunday.
His predecessor Donald Trump blasted “one of the biggest defeats in American history” and called on him to resign.
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