The Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, according to reports. The militant group is in full control of the city and has closed off roads leading in and out of the city.
Here’s what you should be aware of:
Thousands of people eager to escape Afghanistan flocked to Kabul’s airport one day after the Taliban took control of the nation.
Fears of a return to the Taliban’s harsh rule and the possibility of revenge murders grew on Monday, the morning after the Taliban established themselves in the presidential palace in Kabul, regaining control of Afghanistan two decades after being ousted from power by the US military.
Foreign troops, including hundreds of US soldiers deployed to the country to help in a rapid withdrawal, were stationed near Kabul’s international airport.
It was a desperate, sorrowful, and panicked situation.
On Monday morning, tens of thousands of Afghans crowded the tarmac, crowding around a departing US military aircraft as it taxied down the runway.
Images of passengers clinging to the massive plane as it took off immediately went viral across the globe. It seemed to encapsulate the situation better than words could: an American military icon fleeing the nation even as Afghans clung to hope against all odds.
Helicopters were utilized by US troops on the ground to assist in clearing the runway in the military portion of the airport. According to a US military officer, American soldiers fatally shot at least two armed individuals who approached the Americans at the airport security barrier and displayed their guns.
As the Taliban infiltrated the city and the Afghan government collapsed, fears of bloodshed spread across Kabul, the capital. As the militants invaded the capital on Sunday, President Ashraf Ghani left the country.
Taliban leaders ensconced themselves in the palace only hours after Mr. Ghani fled, in remarkable scenes broadcast on Al Jazeera, taking control of what was once one of the most secure locations in the country and a symbol of the nation that the US spent so much money and sacrificed so much blood to uphold.
Even if it wasn’t a formal surrender, it might have been.
In one of the palace structures, the chief of the Afghan presidential security guard shook hands with a Taliban commander and claimed he had accompanied the Taliban commander at the request of a top Afghan government negotiator.
“I greet them warmly and congratulate them,” the official said.
Afghan authorities were videotaped handing over authority to rebel commanders in other towns. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced the formation of a committee with other political figures to plan a smooth transition to a new Taliban administration. Mr. Karzai also requested that the head of the Presidential Protection Service be on duty to guarantee that the palace was not plundered.
Early Taliban activities in other Taliban-controlled towns provided a peek into the future. They set up checkpoints and went door to house in Kunduz, which fell on Aug. 8, looking for absentee government employees, saying that anyone who did not return to work would be punished.
For those who believed they could create a life under the protection of their American friends, the shift in mood in Kabul was as rapid as it was terrifying.
Some residents said that the Taliban had already paid a visit to the houses of government leaders. They took seized the house of a former governor in another area of town after entering the home of a former official in western Kabul and removing his vehicles.
There were rumors in other areas of the nation that fighters were looking for individuals they thought were collaborators with the Americans and the collapsed government.
For fear of offending the Taliban, residents of Kabul started ripping down billboards depicting women without head coverings. The Taliban’s doctrine bans women from most of public life.
Taliban militants apprehended several police personnel, while others were spotted changing into civilian clothing and attempting to escape.
The Taliban claimed that their troops had invaded Kabul to maintain law and order.
“There will be no revenge” on civilians, according to a member of the Taliban’s negotiation delegation in Qatar. On Sunday night, Suhail Shaheen stated, “We promise the people of Afghanistan, especially in the capital of Kabul, that their possessions and lives are secure.” “There will be no retaliation against anyone.”
On Monday, they were attempting to breach the Kabul airport’s border wall in the hopes of escaping Afghanistan. Shutterstock/EPA/EPA/EPA/EPA/EPA/EPA/EPA/EPA/EPA/EPA
On Monday morning, the throngs outside Kabul’s international airport grew larger and larger, straining the walls and security personnel to contain the mass of people eager to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control.
They raced into the civilian area of the airport and mobbed the runway. Soldiers stood watch, many of them armed.
People clung to the sides of military aircraft as they prepared to take off, even as one taxied down the runway.
Thousands of people eager to escape Afghanistan flocked to Kabul’s airport one day after the Taliban took control of the nation.
As the pandemonium escalated, US soldiers seized control of the airport’s civilian area, as passengers raced through the boarding gates and attempted to board two commercial aircraft parked nearby.
On the tarmac of the airport, there is a throng. Credit: Getty Images/Agence France-Presse
The coming and leaving military aircraft highlighted the sharp difference between foreign nationals and those Afghans who were a flight away from safety, and many more who would have no choice.
Thousands of American citizens, embassy workers and their families, and “especially vulnerable Afghan nationals” will be evacuated in the next days, according to the US administration.
On Monday, US troops were seen at the airport. Credit… Getty Images/Shakib Rahmani/Agence France-Presse
The despair was palpable, as several individuals sobbed as they realized their chances of escaping were low. Throughout the morning, there were additional reports of gunshots.
Despite the fact that the Taliban have taken control of the nation, there is no actual administration. This made it difficult to get accurate information, both for those within the nation and those watching the events develop from afar.
Journalists captured gunshots at the airport on video as passengers fled over the runway and approached gates from the outside. Video of young Afghans clinging to an aircraft as it taxied was shown by local news outlets. To make room for military aircraft, Apache helicopters swooped low over the people.
On Monday, I was outside the airport. Shutterstock/EPA/EPA/EPA/EPA/EPA/EPA/EPA/EPA/EPA/EPA
Because of the turmoil, all civilian flights into and out of Kabul airport were stopped on Monday, according to the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority. People were advised not to go to the airport, according to the agency.
However, Flightradar24 reported that Turkish Airlines’ Boeing 777-300 had left for Istanbul after five hours on the ground.
The airport is being guarded by US troops. Credit: Getty Images/Shakib Rahmani/Agence France-Presse
The airport was the nation’s last redoubt, one of the few locations in the city not under Taliban control, twenty years after the US invaded Afghanistan. According to the State Department, all embassy employees were evacuated to the airport and were being protected by the US military.
Thousands of others, on the other hand, who had hoped to reach safety, were unable to do so.
On Monday, a Taliban militant stands outside Kabul’s international airport. Credit…Reuters
After President Ashraf Ghani left the nation, Taliban militants gathered in the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday. Credit… Associated Press/Zabi Karimi
The image of gun-toting Taliban militants behind President Ashraf Ghani’s beautiful oak desk, deep within the Afghan presidential palace now under their authority, provided as visual proof that power had completely changed hands in the nation.
Few people could have predicted that the strongly guarded palace in a heavily defended city would fall so quickly two decades ago — or even two weeks ago. Mr. Ghani spoke to the country only a few days earlier from behind the same desk, in front of the same artwork.
However, only hours after Mr. Ghani left the country on Sunday, Taliban commanders were addressing the press in the palace, announcing that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan would be restored.
The Arg, the palace they took over, was quietly taken over. The chief of the Presidential Protection Service, which has been guarding it for almost two decades, shook hands with a Taliban commander and declared the transfer.
The government official, Muhammadullah Amin, claimed the government’s longstanding top negotiator with the Taliban had requested him to meet and accompany the Taliban leader, whom he called by the religious title Maulvi, inside the palace.
“I came here along with Maulvi Saheb after a few meetings with him, and we are presently at the Gulkhana palace,” he added, referring to one of the royal structures.
The Taliban leader took a step forward and extended his hand to him. Mr. Amin said, “I said, ‘We’ll take a selfie,’ and now we’ve done it together.”
On Sunday night, Al Jazeera recorded and broadcast the interaction, which was extensively shared on social media.
Mr. Amin said that Mr. Ghani had taken a helicopter from the palace to Kabul’s international airport on Sunday afternoon before boarding a flight out of the country. Mr. Ghani is believed to be in Tajikistan, although he did not specify where he had gone.
“The situation was not good at first here, throughout the day,” Mr. Amin remarked. “Everyone was terrified that anything bad might happen here, God forbid.” The majority of the authorities had gone. “I was the one who left.”
The calm seizure of the palace contrasted with previous power shifts in Afghanistan, when the palace had been the target of bloodshed and destruction.
During a day-long siege in 1978, rebel forces murdered President Mohammad Daud inside the palace, which had been severely damaged. President Noor Mohammad Taraki was fatally wounded in a gun fight within the palace the next year. When Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan and seized the palace in December 1979, his successor, Hafizullah Amin, was executed.
According to the government, the Taliban destroyed sections of the structures and most of the artwork when they seized control in 1996, but subsequent administrations saved treasures and gold hidden in subterranean vaults in the palace.
On Monday, a US soldier confronted passengers at Kabul’s international airport. Credit: Getty Images/Wakil Kohsar/Agence France-Presse
Because to throngs of civilians on the runway, flights of US military aircraft carrying hundreds of Marine and Army reinforcements to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul were delayed for a few hours on Monday, according to a military official.
Flights were finally restored once the runways were cleaned, according to the official.
By Monday morning, 3,000 US Marines and soldiers were anticipated to be on the ground at the airport, with another 3,000 troops on their way, according to Pentagon officials.
U.S. aircraft and armed drones flew cover over the airport a day after Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, fell, but did not conduct out attacks, according to the official.
For the first time, a military official revealed that Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the director of the Pentagon’s Central Command, met with top Taliban officials in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday.
General McKenzie informed Taliban leaders in a 45-minute discussion that the US would defend itself during evacuations of American troops and Afghan civilians from the airport, and cautioned the insurgents not to interfere with the operation, according to the source.
General McKenzie, who took charge of the remaining US military operations in Afghanistan last month, traveled to Qatar over the weekend to supervise the mission.
According to the military source, at least two armed individuals approached the Americans at the airport security barrier and displayed their guns. However, Taliban militants did not seem to be interfering with the frantic airport evacuation.
On Monday, civilians boarded an aircraft at Kabul’s international airport. People attempting to flee the country clogged the airport. Credit… Getty Images/Wakil Kohsar/Agence France-Presse
Other nations are preparing for a torrent of refugees seeking shelter as thousands flee the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
According to Greece’s migration ministry, five Mediterranean nations in the forefront of mass migration to Europe — Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, and Spain — have sought European Union-level discussions on how to react on Wednesday.
Concerns have also been raised concerning the influx of refugees into Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey.
Last Monday, Canada announced that it will relocate more than 20,000 Afghan nationals from categories it deems to be Taliban targets, including powerful women, human rights activists, and L.G.B.T.Q. persons.
“As long as the security situation is stable, we will continue to try to get as many Afghan interpreters and their families out as soon as possible,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Sunday, “and we will continue to work over the coming months to relocate refugees.”
More than 430 embassy workers and their families have been relocated in Australia since April, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday that the government is trying to evacuate more.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand urged the Taliban to “acknowledge what the international community has demanded: human rights and the protection of their people.”
She refused to clarify whether a Taliban-led administration would be recognized in New Zealand.
“What we want to see is the protection of human rights. At a press conference, she said, “We want to see women and girls able to access employment and education.” “These are things that they haven’t had access to in the past when the Taliban ruled.”
On Monday, Taliban militants were seen in Kabul. Credit: Getty Images/Agence France-Presse
As the world watches the fast fall of Afghanistan’s government with astonishment, sorrow, and concern, it’s uncertain whether foreign powers would recognize a Taliban-led administration.
In a joint statement, almost a half-dozen nations urged all parties in Afghanistan to enable “the safe and orderly exit of foreign citizens and Afghans who want to leave the country.”
“Those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan have duty — and accountability — for the preservation of human life and property, as well as the prompt restoration of security and civil order,” according to the statement.
The Taliban had a more favorable welcome in China and Russia, both of which the Taliban’s leaders visited for diplomatic talks last month. China’s Foreign Ministry, which shares a short border with Afghanistan, expressed optimism that the Taliban will assist the Afghan people escape the chaos of war by ensuring a peaceful transfer of power.
Hua Chunying, a ministry spokeswoman, said the Taliban had indicated a desire for good ties with China and that they looked forward to China’s involvement in Afghanistan’s reconstruction.
Global Times, a Chinese state-backed nationalist newspaper, claimed in an editorial published Sunday night that recent developments in Afghanistan demonstrated the failure of the US policy there.
“The US’ hasty departure also demonstrated how unreliable its promises to allies are: when its interests compel it to leave friends, it will not hesitate to create any reason to do so,” it added.
According to Reuters, Russia will determine whether to recognize the Taliban administration depending on its conduct in the next days and weeks, citing a radio interview with Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov.
On Tuesday, Russia’s envoy to Afghanistan will meet with Taliban leaders in Kabul to discuss the security of the Russian Embassy.
On Sunday, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that no nation should recognize a Taliban administration without consulting others.
“We want an unified front among all like-minded people, as far as we can obtain one,” he added, “so that we can do all we can to prevent Afghanistan from reverting to becoming a breeding ground for terrorism.”
After meeting with his advisors, French President Emmanuel Macron was scheduled to address publicly on Monday night.
Last month, displaced Afghan women pleaded with a police officer in Kunduz, Afghanistan, for assistance. Credit… The New York Times’ Jim Huylebroek
A high school student in Kabul, Afghanistan’s war-torn capital, is concerned that she may not be able to complete her studies.
Wahida Sadeqi, 17, asks the same question as many Afghan civilians in the aftermath of the US military departure and before of a Taliban victory: What will happen to me?
The United States’ departure, which essentially ends the country’s longest war on foreign territory, is likely to usher in yet another tough chapter for the Afghan people.
“I’m really concerned about my future. It seems to be quite hazy. Ms. Sadeqi, an 11th student at Kabul’s Pardis High School, stated, “If the Taliban take control, I would lose my identity.” “It’s about my existence,” she says. It has nothing to do with their withdrawal. I was born in 2004, and I have no clue what the Taliban did to women, but I am aware that they were prohibited from doing anything.”
In Afghanistan, uncertainty pervades almost every aspect of existence. It’s uncertain what the future holds, or whether the war will ever end. American leaders have promised peace, prosperity, democracy, the end of terrorism, and women’s rights for more than two decades.
Few of those promises have come true in large parts of Afghanistan, but even in places where genuine progress has been made, there is concern that all will be lost once the Americans depart.
The Taliban, an extreme organization that formerly ruled the majority of the nation and is still fighting the government, has demanded that the elected president resign. Militias are becoming more powerful and prominent, and there is speculation of a long civil war.
Over the course of two decades, the American mission has changed from chasing down terrorists to assisting the government in establishing functional institutions, dismantling the Taliban, and empowering women. The Taliban, who took shelter in Pakistan, were never completely destroyed by the US and Afghan forces, enabling the rebels to make a return.
Afghanistan’s democratic government was never recognized by the Taliban. And they seem to be closer than ever to realizing their insurgency’s goal: regaining power and establishing a government based on their extreme interpretation of Islam.
Under Taliban control, women would be the most vulnerable. Women were banned from most occupations and educations while the organization ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, effectively imprisoning them in their own homes — though this was already the case for many women in rural areas of the nation.
“It is too early to make a judgment on the matter. In April, Fatima Gailani, an Afghan government negotiator engaged in ongoing peace negotiations with the Taliban, stated, “We need to know a lot more.” “One thing is certain: it’s past time for us to learn to trust ourselves. Afghanistan’s women are no longer the same. They are a powerful force in our nation, and no one has the authority to deny them their rights or status.”
As fear grew, people gathered outside the Azizi Bank headquarters in Kabul on Sunday to withdraw money. Credit… The New York Times’ Kiana Hayeri
Kabul residents were assured that they would be secure, that an agreement had been reached to prevent a full-fledged Taliban assault on their city. However, for many Afghans, the sights unfolding in their city tell a different tale.
It wasn’t simply that their president had left the nation the day before. There were a slew of tiny indicators that their environment was shifting.
Police stations have been decommissioned, and officers have abandoned their uniforms in favor of civilian attire. Women’s posters were painted over at beauty salons, apparently to prevent retaliation from Afghanistan’s new fundamentalist authorities. Inmates in Kabul’s main jail, many of whom were Taliban militants, took advantage of the chance to escape on the city’s east side.
As he videotaped the prisoners carrying bundles of things out from the jail, one spectator exclaimed, “This is the Day of Judgment.”
Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal, the Afghan interior minister, said in the early afternoon that an agreement had been reached for a peaceful transfer of power for greater Kabul.
In a video message, he added, “We have instructed all Afghan National Security Forces divisions and personnel to stabilize Kabul.” “There will not be a city-wide assault. The agreement for larger Kabul city is that authority would be handed to an interim government, God willing.”
Residents didn’t appear persuaded.
As their home towns collapsed, many people migrated to Kabul. If nowhere else in their nation, the capital seemed to be a safe refuge for the foreseeable future.
But the future was closer than nearly everyone realized, and with the Taliban in Kabul on Sunday, many people — including President Ashraf Ghani and other top government officials — were searching for a way out.
Afghans and non-Afghans alike flocked to the airport, which was a tumultuous sight. Thousands of Afghans crowded into the civilian domestic airport and mobbed around aircraft on the runway, eager for flights out.
On Sunday, helicopter after helicopter was spotted ferrying people to Kabul’s airport as the evacuation of US officials and some civilians began. Many Afghans, on the other hand, could only watch in despair.
The Taliban seemed to be attempting to create a reassuring tone. In a statement, they added, “Our troops are approaching Kabul city with extreme care.”
However, as the sun sank behind the mountains, traffic became congested as the throng increased. Taliban militants began to emerge on motorcycles, police pickup trucks, and even a Humvee that had formerly belonged to Afghan security personnel.
The streets were filled with scenes of fear and despair, as rumors abounded and solid information was hard to come by.
The CEO of Afghan Film, Sahraa Karimi, recorded her effort to leave her area and shared it on Facebook. The footage shows her running away on foot, out of breath and holding her head scarf as she pleads with others around her to go while they still can.
She may be heard saying, “Greetings.” “The Taliban have arrived in town. We’re on our way out.”
On Sunday, a helicopter took off from the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. By the end of the day, the embassy had been shut down. Credit… The New York Times’ Jim Huylebroek
As the United States started the hurried evacuations of Americans and Afghan friends from the Afghan capital, Kabul, after it fell to the Taliban in one terrible weekend, there was shooting at the airport and a stern warning from the State Department to stay in place.
Even the evacuation of 20,000 Americans and an unknown number of Afghans, according to one US Defense Department official, managed to mirror the narrative of the whole 20-year war: a gap between American diplomats and the realities on the ground.
Administration officials said that as U.S. troops packed up and left the country under President Biden’s orders, staff at the American Embassy in Kabul and the State Department headquarters in Washington clung to the hope that their presence in the country would instill some backbone in the Afghan government.
That was not the case.
On Sunday, American C-17 cargo aircraft carrying 200 Marines arrived at Hamid Karzai International Airport, were immediately refilled with embassy personnel, and then flew away.
On Sunday, Taliban militants were seen in Kabul. According to US officials, President Ashraf Ghani’s unexpected departure offers the group little motivation to form a transitional administration. Credit… The New York Times’ Jim Huylebroek
Following the fall of Kabul, the Biden administration must decide whether to cooperate with a Taliban-led government in Afghanistan’s capital, or surrender all power in the nation to an extreme organization that brutalized Afghans and sheltered Osama bin Laden while he plotted attacks on the United States.
The Taliban have little incentive to negotiate a transitional government for a country in crisis, according to two US officials involved in discussions inside the administration. President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan was exiled on Sunday, just hours after President Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken each assured him of full American support.
Officials claimed Mr. Ghani had left the nation without informing his cabinet or leaving preparations for a transfer of power. The Taliban’s ascension to power is all but certain, and the Biden administration can only hope that it will be as peaceful as possible.
It also effectively ends a long-stalled American effort to establish a power-sharing system between the Taliban and Afghanistan’s elected leaders, leaving US officials hoping that a group that has defied nearly all calls for moderation in recent months will protect some semblance of women’s and political rights, as well as honor a pledge not to harbor al-Qaeda terrorists.
Mr. Blinken said that the US will support “way forward” discussions between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Last week, Taliban militants were seen in Kunduz. Credit… Associated Press/Abdullah Sahil
Gul Mohammad Elias went on a charm offensive on his first day as the Taliban-appointed mayor of Kunduz.
Insurgents took control of the city in northern Afghanistan on Sunday, which had been in ruins for weeks due to fighting. The power wires had gone down. The water supply, which was provided by generators, did not reach the majority of the inhabitants. The streets were strewn with trash and debris.
The government officials who might solve these issues were hiding at home, afraid of the Taliban. As a result, the insurgent-turned-mayor called several to his new office in an attempt to convince them to return to work.
But as the municipal offices remained largely vacant day after day, Mr. Elias became more angry — and his language became worse.
Taliban militants started going door to door in search of city employees who had gone missing. Hundreds of armed men stationed themselves at checkpoints around the city. A fresh sign emerged on the wall at the provincial hospital’s entrance: employees must return to work or risk Taliban retribution.
The experience of people in Kunduz provides a glimpse of how the Taliban could rule and what the rest of the nation might face.
According to locals contacted by phone, the rebels started sowing fear in only days after failing to persuade government employees to return to work.
“I’m scared because I don’t know what will happen or what they will do,” one said, requesting anonymity for fear of retribution. “We have to grin because we are afraid, but we are profoundly unhappy.”
Almost every business in Kunduz was shut. Fearing that their shops would be plundered by Taliban militants, shopkeepers had taken their merchandise home. Residents fled the streets in the afternoons, fearful of bombings as government aircraft hovered above. Around 500 Taliban militants were stationed around the city, with checkpoints set up on almost every street corner.
Armed Taliban militants were keeping track on attendance at the provincial hospital. Female staff members donned sky-blue burqas while they helped in operations and treated to wounds from airstrikes, which still devastated the city each afternoon, according to one health worker.
In early 2016, US Army troops supervised the training of the Afghan National Army’s 215th Corps at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province. Credit… The New York Times’ Adam Ferguson
While Afghanistan’s future appears to be becoming increasingly uncertain, one thing is becoming abundantly clear: the US’ 20-year effort to rebuild Afghanistan’s military into a robust and independent fighting force has failed, and that failure is being played out in real time as the country falls under Taliban control.
The Afghan military’s collapse was initially seen months ago, with a series of defeats that began even before President Biden’s declaration that the US would leave by September 11.
It started with outposts in remote regions, when Taliban militants approached famished and ammunition-depleted troops and police units, promising safe passage if they surrendered and left their equipment behind. As a result, the rebels gained control of highways, then whole districts.
As positions fell apart, the most common criticism was that there was no air assistance or that supplies and food had run out.
Even before then, the Afghan security forces’ structural flaws were evident.
And when the Taliban gained traction after the US announced its departure, it further reinforced the perception that the security personnel fighting for President Ashraf Ghani’s government were not worth dying for. Soldiers and police officers recounted times of anguish and desertion in interview after interview.
On Sunday, Taliban militants stood outside the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. Credit… The New York Times’ Jim Huylebroek
After the Taliban seemed to seize control of Afghanistan, where the United Nations has maintained a significant humanitarian program since the beginning of the American-led occupation two decades ago, the UN Security Council called an emergency meeting for Monday morning.
The emergency conference was scheduled to include UN Secretary General António Guterres, who has frequently denounced assaults on Afghan civilians and urged the Taliban and government officials to seek a peaceful solution. Mr. Guterres said the nation was “spinning out of control” on Friday, as it became apparent that the Afghan government was crumbling and Taliban militants marched into city after city.
It’s uncertain how the Taliban would be seen by the UN if they proclaim themselves the legitimate authority in Afghanistan. Many of the organization’s 193 members have denounced the Taliban’s violence and would likely reject such a statement.
In Afghanistan, the United Nations employs approximately 3,000 Afghan workers and about 720 foreign employees, but about half of the international employees have been working outside the country since the epidemic began.
Officials from the United Nations have said repeatedly that no staff personnel would be evacuated from the country. Last week, though, Mr. Guterres’ spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, told reporters that the UN was assessing the security situation “hour by hour.”
The Taliban had promised not to interfere with UN relief efforts, but on July 30, they assaulted a UN office in the western city of Herat, killing a local security officer who was protecting the building.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or Unama, is the primary UN mission in Afghanistan, headquartered in Kabul. It was founded in 2002 to assist in the formation of a government after the American-led invasion.
In February 1989, a column of Soviet armored vehicles crossed the Afghan border over the Amu Darya River’s Friendship Bridge. Credit… Associated Press/V. Kiselev/Sputnik
Pro-government troops poured across the Friendship Bridge in recent days in a chaotic withdrawal from the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, seeking refuge on the other side in neighboring Uzbekistan.
The sight recalled an iconic image from the disastrous Soviet war in Afghanistan 32 years ago, when it was the defeated Soviet Army’s last departure path out of the nation.
Then, on Feb. 15, 1989, red flags attached to armored vehicles flailed in the cold wind as the leaving Soviet soldiers drove and marched over the bridge. After a decade of occupation and setbacks, that movement was supposed to herald an orderly, dignified departure.
The Biden administration had made a point of avoiding a comparable ceremonial scenario for the US Army in Afghanistan, something that seems unlikely today, given the US-backed government’s quick fall on Sunday.
The withdrawal of troops loyal to the American-backed Afghan government across the Friendship Bridge on Thursday, which fell only three days later, was chaotic.
On Monday, an aircraft carrying Afghans evacuated from Kabul landed at a Royal Air Force base in the United Kingdom. Credit… via Associated Press/Steve Parsons/Press Association
The British Parliament will be summoned back from its summer recess this week to address the Afghan situation, amid mounting concern over the humanitarian and geopolitical implications of the Taliban’s gains.
On Wednesday morning, lawmakers will gather to discuss the issue. On Sunday, Tom Tugendhat, a member of the ruling Conservative Party who chairs the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said the West had “abandoned the Afghan people.”
On Twitter, Lisa Nandy, a foreign policy spokesperson for the opposition Labour Party, stated that “a disaster is developing in Afghanistan – with severe consequences for Afghanistan and the United Kingdom.”
In 2014, amid a crisis in Iraq, Parliament was summoned back for an emergency session to address a similar foreign policy issue.
Britain announced its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan last month to coincide with the US military’s departure. However, it said last week that 600 troops will be redeployed to assist with the evacuation of its residents.
Some senior legislators worry that the departure from Afghanistan would be seen as a major geopolitical blunder.
Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative MP, told the British station Times Radio, “We created the most amazing, technologically sophisticated coalition the world has ever seen, yet we’re being beaten by an insurgency armed simply with AK-47s and RPGs.” “During the two decades of effort, we should have done more. We made some elementary school mistakes.”
Over the last two decades, 150,000 British military troops have served in Afghanistan, mostly in Helmand Province, with 457 deaths. In 2014, the combat operations came to an end, leaving just a small force to provide assistance.
The international military presence in Afghanistan “was never meant to be permanent,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated last month, adding, “We and our NATO partners were always going to remove our forces: the only issue was when — and there could never be a perfect time.”