The chaos at Kabul airport, where thousands of people have thronged since the Taliban took power, left its first dead on Saturday. At least three people have died.
Several people died on Saturday, August 21, while trying to board a plane to flee Afghanistan, a week after the Taliban took power. At the same time, the Taliban leadership was meeting to define the contours of an “inclusive” government.
Images shot by Sky News show the bodies of at least three people, presumably crushed by the crowd pressing against the airport gates, caught between American soldiers on one side and Islamist fighters on the other.
People in front of the crowd were “crushed” and medics rushed from one wounded to another, said Stuart Ramsay, a reporter for this British news channel who was at the airport. The images also show many injured.
On Saturday, the roads leading to Kabul airport continued to be congested. Thousands of families still gathered in front of the airfield, hoping to miraculously board a plane. In front of them, American soldiers and an Afghan special forces brigade were on the lookout to dissuade them from invading the premises.
Behind them, the Taliban, now accused of tracking down Afghans who had worked for NATO to arrest them and restricting access to the airport, watched the scene.
Saturday, the American Embassy in Kabul also called on its nationals to avoid approaching the airport because of “potential security threats”.
The nature of these threats was not specified, but a White House official said Joe Biden had discussed Saturday morning with senior officials in his government “about the security situation in Afghanistan and counterterrorism operations. , including ISIS, ”the Islamic State group.
“We advise US citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and avoiding airport gates at this time, unless you receive individual instructions from a US government official to do so.” , details the bulletin published on the website of the embassy.
For the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell, it will be “impossible” to evacuate all the Afghan collaborators of the Western powers before August 31.
The US administration has set for that date the final withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan, and hopes to evacuate by then all Americans (between 10,000 and 15,000 people), and do the same for their Afghan allies and their families. (between 50,000 and 65,000 people).
“We are fighting against both time and space,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby admitted on Saturday.
Since August 14, some 17,000 people have been evacuated by the United States, including 2,500 Americans. Thousands more have been exfiltrated aboard foreign military planes.
In France, “all requests for exfiltration from” educated “Afghans
The cases of all Afghans who ask the French authorities to ask to be exfiltrated from their country which has fallen into the hands of the Taliban are being examined, for his part assured Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
“All the cases that have arisen, and their number is growing day by day with hundreds of names, are being investigated”, the minister said in the Journal du Dimanche.
The Air Force has already transported more than 600 people to Paris on four flights, the vast majority of them Afghans, to which are added 625 people who had been transferred between May and July in anticipation of the capture. power of the Taliban.
“Our only problem is the access to the airport, with the Taliban checkpoints, then the entrance to the airport where there is chaos with more than ten thousand people who flock to its doors, “said the minister.
Under these conditions, “as long as the airport remains open, as long as our personnel are safe there, we remain. Our collective moral responsibility is to ensure that the Afghans threatened by their previous commitments are evacuated”, a- he estimated.
In this regard, he urged the United States, which runs the airport, to continue its operation. “I asked them, along with many of my colleagues, that they take their responsibilities by ensuring that they allow and facilitate the evacuation of all Afghan nationals and auxiliaries but also, at the same level, of the all the Afghans whose lives are threatened. And that coordination with the allies takes place in a more effective and stronger way. This assumes that the current operation will continue for the necessary time “.
Towards an “inclusive” government?
While the evacuations continue, co-founder and number two of the Taliban, Abdul Ghani Baradar, arrived in Kabul on Saturday after spending two days in Kandahar, the cradle of the movement.
>> From military command to Taliban diplomacy, the rise of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar
This mullah, who until then headed the political office of the Taliban in Qatar, will “meet jihadist leaders and political leaders for the establishment of an inclusive government,” a senior Taliban official told AFP.
Other leaders of the movement have been seen in the Afghan capital in recent days, including Khalil Haqqani, one of the world’s most wanted terrorists by the United States, who has pledged a $ 5 million reward for information. allowing its capture.
Pro-Taliban social networks have shown Khalil Haqqani meeting Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, considered one of the cruelest warlords in the country for having notably bombed Kabul during the civil war (1992-96). Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, nicknamed “the Butcher of Kabul”, was a rival of the Taliban before the latter took power between 1996 and 2001.
These same networks announced a few hours later “the allegiance” to their movement of Ahmad Massoud, the son of the late commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, known for his opposition to the fundamentalist group.
Ahmad Massoud, who earlier this week called for arms from the United States to defend against new power in his Panchir Valley northeast of Kabul, has not officially responded to the allegations.
A “different” reign
Since the arrival of Abdul Ghani Baradar on Afghan soil, the Taliban have assured that their reign would be “different” from the previous one (1996-2001), marked by its extreme cruelty, particularly towards women. They repeated that they wanted to form an “inclusive” government, without however making it explicit.
The Taliban said they wanted to establish “good diplomatic relations” with all countries, but warned that they would not compromise on their religious principles. China, Russia, Turkey and Iran have issued signals of openness, with Western countries remaining wary.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who engaged Britain in the war in Afghanistan in 2001 alongside the United States, on Saturday criticized “the abandonment” of the country by the West, which he ruled ” dangerous and unnecessary “.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned that his country could not bear “an additional migratory burden” from Afghanistan.
“A new wave of migration is inevitable if the necessary measures are not taken in Afghanistan and Iran. Turkey, which already hosts 5 million refugees, cannot bear an additional migratory burden,” he said at the meeting. a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.