The Taliban declared the war in Afghanistan over after taking control of the presidential palace in Kabul while Western nations scrambled on Monday to evacuate their citizens amid chaos at the airport as frantic Afghans looked for how out.
President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday because the militants entered the capital virtually unopposed, saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed, while many Afghans wanting to leave flooded Kabul airport.
“Today may be a great day for the Afghan people and therefore the mujahideen. they need witnessed the fruits of their efforts and their sacrifices for 20 years,” Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, told Al Jazeera TV.
“Thanks to God, the war is over within the country.”
In a video posted to social media, Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar also announced his movement’s victory.
“Now it is time to check and prove, now we’ve to point out that we will serve our nation and ensure security and luxury of life,” he said.
It took the Taliban just over every week to seize control of the country after a lightning sweep that led to Kabul as government forces, trained for years and equipped by the us et al. at a price of trillions of dollars, melted away.
Al Jazeera broadcast footage of what it said were Taliban commanders within the presidential palace with dozens of armed fighters.
“We woke up this morning to the Taliban white flags all over the city.”
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) August 15, 2021
Naeem said the shape of the new regime in Afghanistan would be made clear soon, adding the Taliban didn’t want to measure in isolation and calling for peaceful diplomacy .
“We have reached what we were seeking, which is that the freedom of our country and therefore the independence of our people,” he said.
“We won’t allow anyone to use our lands to focus on anyone, and that we don’t want to harm others.”
A Taliban leader told Reuters the insurgents were regrouping from different provinces, and would wait until foreign forces had left before creating a replacement governance structure.
The leader, who requested anonymity, said Taliban fighters had been “ordered to permit Afghans to resume daily activities and do nothing to scare civilians”.
“Normal life will continue during a far better way, that’s all I can say for now,” he told Reuters during a message.
Central Kabul streets were largely deserted early a sunny Monday as waking residents pondered their future.
“I’m during a complete state of shock,” said Sherzad Karim Stanekzai, who spent the night in his carpet shop to protect it. “I know there’ll be no foreigners, no international people that will now come to Kabul.”
— Nicola Careem (@NicolaCareem) August 16, 2021
For the tens of thousands who have sought refuge in Kabul in recent weeks, the overwhelming mood was one among apprehension and fear.
“I am worried there’ll be tons of fighting here,” one doctor who arrived together with his 35-strong family from Kunduz told AFP, asking to not be named. “I would rather return home, where i do know it’s stopped.”
The militants sought to project a more moderate face, promising to respect women’s rights and protect both foreigners and Afghans.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern involved the Taliban to uphold human rights and said the planet was watching: “It’s getting to be all about the actions, not the words.”
Many Afghans fear the Taliban will return to past harsh practices in their imposition of shariah . During their 1996-2001 rule, women couldn’t work and punishments like stoning, whipping and hanging were administered.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged all parties to exercise the utmost restraint, and expressed particular concern about the longer term of girls and girls.
The UN also said the safety Council would meet over Afghanistan on Monday.
In Washington, opponents folks President Joe Biden’s decision to finish America’s longest war, launched after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks, said the chaos was caused by a failure of leadership.
Biden has faced rising domestic criticism after sticking to an idea , initiated by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, to finish the US mission by Aug 31.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell blamed Biden for what he called a “shameful failure of yank leadership”.
“Terrorists and major competitors like China are watching the embarrassment of a superpower stricken ,” McConnell said.
Naeem said the Taliban would adopt a world policy of two-way non-interference. “We don’t think that foreign forces will repeat their failed experience.”
A US State Department spokesperson said early Monday that each one embassy personnel, including Ambassador Ross Wilson, had been transferred to Kabul airport, mostly by helicopter, to await evacuation and therefore the American flag had been lowered and faraway from the embassy compound.
Hundreds of Afghans invaded the airport’s runways within the dark, pulling luggage and jostling for an area on one among the last commercial flights to go away before US forces took over traffic control on Sunday.
“This is our airport but we are seeing diplomats being evacuated while we wait in complete uncertainty,” said Rakhshanda Jilali, a person’s rights activist who was trying to urge to Pakistan, told Reuters during a message from the airport.
— ABC News (@ABC) August 15, 2021
US forces managing the airport fired into the air to prevent Afghans surging onto the tarmac to undertake to board a military flight, a US official said.
Dozens of men tried to clamber up onto an overhead departure gangway to board a plane while many others milled about, a video posted on social media showed.
The Pentagon on Sunday authorised another 1,000 troops to assist evacuate US citizens and Afghans who worked for them, expanding its security presence on the bottom to almost 6,000 troops within subsequent 48 hours.
More than 60 western countries, including the us , Britain, France and Japan, issued a joint statement saying all Afghans and international citizens who wanted to go away must be allowed to try to to so.
Western nations, including France, Germany and New Zealand said they were working to urge citizens also as some Afghan employees out.
Russia said it saw no got to evacuate its embassy for the nonce while Turkey said its embassy would continue operations.
In a Facebook post, Ghani said he had left the country to avoid clashes with the Taliban that might endanger many Kabul residents. Some social media users branded Ghani, who didn’t disclose his location, a coward for leaving them in chaos.
Westerners rush to go away Kabul, rescue Afghans
Nato allies that had pulled out their forces before the Biden administration’s intended Aug 31 withdrawal deadline were rushing troops back in also this weekend, to airlift their citizens.
Some complained the US was failing to maneuver fast enough to bring back safety Afghans in danger of reprisal from the Taliban for past work with the Americans and other Nato forces.
“This is murder by incompetence,” said US Air Force veteran Sam Lerman, struggling on Sunday from his range in Woodbridge, Virginia, to seek out how out for an Afghan contractor who had guarded Americans and other Nato forces at Afghanistan’s Bagram air station for a decade.
Massouma Tajik, a 22-year-old data analyst, was among many Afghans waiting anxiously within the Kabul airport to board an evacuation flight.
“I see people crying, they’re unsure whether their flight will happen or not. Neither am I,” she said by phone, with panic in her voice.
Even as CH-47 helicopters shuttled American diplomats to the airport, and facing criticism reception over the administration’s handling of the withdrawal, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected comparisons to the 1975 fall of Saigon.
“This is being wiped out a really deliberate way, it’s being wiped out an orderly way,” Blinken insisted on ABC’s “This Week”.
A joint statement from the US State and Defence departments pledged late on Sunday to fly thousands of usa citizens , local embassy staff and other “particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals” out of the country.
Game over. pic.twitter.com/hvluHgr2Rg
— francesca mannocchi (@mannocchia) August 15, 2021
It gave no details, but high-profile Afghan women, journalists, and Afghans who’ve worked with Western governments and nonprofits are among those that fear Taliban targeting for alleged Western ways or ties.
The statement promised to hurry up visa processing for Afghans who wont to work with American troops and officials especially . Underscoring the problem the US has had getting those Afghans out before the Taliban, the statement could only assure “we will find” other countries to host a number of those Afghans.
To many, however, the evacuations, and last-ditch rescue attempts by Americans and other foreigners trying to save lots of Afghan allies, appeared faraway from orderly.
An Italian journalist, Francesca Mannocchi, posted a video of an Italian helicopter carrying her to the airport, an armed soldier standing guard at a window.
Mannochi described watching columns of smoke rising from Kabul as she flew. Some were from fires that workers at the US embassy et al. were using to stay sensitive material from falling in Taliban hands.
She said Afghans stoned an Italian convoy. She captioned her brief video: “Kabul airport. Evacuation. Game Over.”
Hundreds or more Afghans crowded during a a part of the airport faraway from many of the evacuating Westerners. a number of them, including a person with a broken leg sitting on the bottom , lined up for what was expected to be a final flight out by the country’s Ariana Airlines.
US officials reported gunfire near the airport on Sunday evening and urged civilians to prevent coming. US military officials later announced closing the airport to commercial flights, shutting one among the last avenues of escape for ordinary Afghans.
US C-17 transport planes were thanks to bring thousands of fresh American troops to the airport, then fly out again with evacuating US embassy staffers.
The Pentagon intends to possess enough aircraft to fly out as many as 5,000 civilians each day , both Americans and therefore the Afghan translators et al. who worked with the US during the war.
But tens of thousands of Afghans who have worked with US and other Nato forces are seeking to escape with relations . And it had been by no means clear how long Kabul’s deteriorating security would allow any evacuations to continue.