'Nation building' was never a US goal in Afghanistan, says President Joe Biden
The Afghanistan government's shockingly rapid fall, with the Taliban seizing the presidential palace on Sunday night, had sparked fear in Kabul. Thousands of Afghans gathered at the Kabul airport last evening, anxious to flee the country. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Taliban and all other parties "to exercise utmost restraint in order to protect lives and ensure that humanitarian needs can be addressed," the UN said in a statement. Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who previously stated that the Taliban are ordinary citizens rather than armed groups, stated today that Afghanistan has broken the bonds of slavery, referring to events in the neighbouring nation where the Afghan Taliban have taken power.
The Afghanistan government's shockingly rapid fall, with the Taliban seizing the presidential palace on Sunday night, had sparked fear in Kabul.
Thousands of Afghans gathered at the Kabul airport last evening, anxious to flee the country.
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Taliban and all other parties "to exercise utmost restraint in order to protect lives and ensure that humanitarian needs can be addressed," the UN said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who previously stated that the Taliban are ordinary citizens rather than armed groups, stated today that Afghanistan has broken the bonds of slavery, referring to events in the neighbouring nation where the Afghan Taliban have taken power.
"I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I've learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces.The mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to be nation-building," he said in a televised address from the White House.
Despite the Taliban's insurgency and the government's rapid collapse, President Biden gave a statement from the White House on Monday afternoon, stating he remained "squarely behind" his decision to remove all US soldiers from Afghanistan.
Here are the highlights of his address to the nation:
- I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I've learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces.
- I always promised the American people that I would be straight with you. The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.
- China and Russia 'would love' an indefinite US quagmire in Afghanistan.
- The US will 'act quickly' against terrorism in Afghanistan 'if needed'.
- The US gave the Afghan military 'every chance' against the Taliban.
- Biden vows a 'devastating' response if the Taliban attack US interests.
- We'll continue to speak out about the basic rights of the Afghan people, of women and girls.
We went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear goals: get those who attacked us on September 11, 2001—and make sure al Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again.— President Biden (@POTUS) August 16, 2021
We did that—a decade ago.
Our mission was never supposed to be nation building.
"My national security team and I have been closely monitoring the situation and quickly responding to it, including the rapid collapse of the government in Afghanistan," US president Joe Biden said.
#Gravitas | The United States insists that the mission in #Afghanistan was a success, even after the Taliban's blitz to #Kabul. Did the US downplay the threat of #Taliban invasion? Or was it disconnected from the ground reality? @MollyGambhir tells you. pic.twitter.com/uSqusKXRmG— WION (@WIONews) August 16, 2021
A Taliban fighter (R) searches the bags of people coming out of the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021. (AFP Photo)
Before current crisis unfolded, India had ongoing development projects in every one of 34 provinces of Afghanistan. We call upon parties concerned to maintain law&order, ensure safety&security of all concerned including UN diplomatic & consular personnel: India's Ambassador to UN— ANI (@ANI) August 16, 2021
We must all ensure Afghanistan can't ever again be a base for terrorism: US
The US told the UN Security Council that the international community should ensure that Afghanistan "cannot ever, ever again be a base for terrorism and urged the country's neighbours and others in the region and beyond to give refuge to Afghans attempting to flee.
The Taliban swept into Kabul on Sunday after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, bringing an end to a two-decade campaign in which the US and its allies had tried to transform Afghanistan. The country's Western-trained security forces collapsed or fled, ahead of the planned withdrawal of the last American troops at the end of the month.
The Chinese foreign ministry issued a statement on Monday saying that China "respects the Afghan people's right to decide on their own future independently".
"We assure all diplomats, embassies, consulates, and charitable workers, whether they are international or national that not only no problem will be created for them on the part of IEA [Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan] but a secure environment will be provided to them, Suhail Shaheen, a spokesperson for the Taliban said in a tweet on Monday.
We assure all diplomats, embassies, consulates, and charitable workers, whether they are international or national that not only no problem will be created for them on the part of IEA but a secure environment will be provided to them, Inshallah.— Suhail Shaheen. محمد سهیل شاهین (@suhailshaheen1) August 16, 2021
The collapse of Afghanistan government and Taliban's return to power has sent shockwaves throughout the world. But the forcible change in government means a lot of things for Afghan people. There is a lot of apprehension about what will happen next within the country.
We would call for an immediate ceasefire & respect for international laws. Women's rights must be respected. Perpetrators of abuse must be brought to justice. France stands shoulder to shoulder with Afghan people: France at UNSC emergency meeting on Afghanistan
Saudi Arabia calls on Taliban to preserve lives, property
Saudi Arabia called on the Taliban and "all Afghan parties" on Monday to preserve lives and property, after the insurgents seized the capital Kabul.
A statement issued by the Saudi foreign ministry on Twitter added that the kingdom "stands with the choices that the Afghan people make without any interference," expressing hope that the situation in the central Asian state stabilises as soon as possible.
Cricket will not be a casualty in the wake of drastic political change in Afghanistan, assured country''s cricket board CEO Hamid Shinwari, saying the Taliban "love" and "support" the game.
Speaking to PTI from Kabul, Shinwari also assured that the members of the national team and their families are safe as the Taliban took over the reins of the country.
Star players including Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Zadran are playing in the UK in the ''Hundred'' tournament.
"Taliban loves cricket. They have supported us since the beginning. They did not interfere in our activities," said Shinwari.
In a statement on Monday, Hamas welcomed “the defeat of the American occupation on all Afghan land” and praised what it said was the Taliban’s “courageous leadership on this victory, which was the culmination of its long struggle over the past 20 years.”
Hamas, a Palestinian group that opposes Israel’s existence, has governed the Gaza Strip since taking over the area in 2007, a year after it won a Palestinian election. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union.
It wished the people of Afghanistan future success and said the ouster of the American troops proves “that the resistance of the peoples, foremost of which is our struggling Palestinian people, is due for a victory.”
Russia says Afghan president fled with cars and helicopter full of cash
Russia's embassy in Kabul said on Monday that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had fled the country with four cars and a helicopter full of cash and had to leave some money behind as it would not all fit in, the RIA news agency reported.
Ghani, whose current whereabouts are unknown, said he left Afghanistan on Sunday as the Taliban entered Kabul virtually unopposed. He said he wanted to avoid bloodshed. read more
Russia has said it will retain a diplomatic presence in Kabul and hopes to develop ties with the Taliban even as it says it is no rush to recognise them as the country's rulers and will closely observe their behaviour.
Afghanistan crisis update in a nutshell: What you must know
- Taliban in control in Afghanistan after seizing presidential palace in Kabul
- At least five people have been killed at Kabul International Airport as Afghani and foreign citizens attempt to leave the country
- Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani relinquished power to an interim government led by Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar
- EU governments to meet on Tuesday
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken defends decision to withdraw troops
- UK parliament to be recalled on Wednesday
- The United Nations Security Council will on Monday hold a meeting to discuss the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover
- China hopes Taliban will establish ‘open, inclusive’ Islamic govt as committed
- Russia is in contact with Taliban officials via its embassy in Kabul
- The Pakistan PM appeared to praise the Taliban in a video broadcast on Pakistani television, saying that "they have freed the chains of mental slavery in Afghanistan."
- People fall off flying plane: desperate scenes as Afghans try to flee Taliban.
Malala Yousafzai says 'deeply worried' for women, minorities as Taliban control Afghanistan
Shocked at the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, Pakistani activist and the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has said she is "deeply worried" for women, minorities and human rights advocates living in the strife-torn country. The 24-year-old rights activist, who was shot in the head by Taliban militants in 2012 in Pakistan's Swat region for her campaign for the education of girls, urged global and regional powers to call for an immediate ceasefire and provide help to civilians in Afghanistan.
Russia says Taliban does not pose threat to Central Asia: Report
Russia does not view the Taliban in Afghanistan as a threat to Central Asia, President Vladimir Putin's special representative on Afghanistan was quoted as saying by TASS news agency on August 16.
The Afghan government collapsed on August 15 as the Taliban entered Kabul virtually unopposed. The official, Zamir Kabulov, said Moscow had prepared the ground in advance to establish contact with the Taliban.
The chaos and utter collapse of Afghan government power in Afghanistan has strongly drawn attention to the way US fought its longest war and the apparent speedy exit that was followed by rapid gains by Taliban.
Dramatic images have expounded, showing a scene of chaos on the runway, with civilians frantically clambering up an already overcrowded and buckling set of airstairs. click to see images.
The UK's ambassador to Afghanistan remains in Kabul
Sir Laurie Bristow stayed behind in Kabul to help a small team of diplomats process visa applications, Sky News understands.
Around 4,000 British nationals and eligible Afghans are thought to be in the city and in need of evacuation.
How did this happen? Why didn't the Afghan army put up a fight?
As foreign troops began their final withdrawal in May, Washington and Kabul were confident the Afghan military would put up a strong fight against the Taliban.
With more than 300,000 personnel and multi-billion-dollar equipment more advanced than the Taliban arsenal, Afghan forces were formidable -- on paper.
In reality, they were plagued by corruption, poor leadership, lack of training and plummeting morale for years. Desertions were common and US government inspectors had long warned that the force was unsustainable.
Afghan forces put up strong resistance this summer in some areas such as Lashkar Gah in the south, but they now faced the Taliban without regular US air strikes and military support.
Faced with the smaller but highly motivated and cohesive enemy, many soldiers and even entire units simply deserted or surrendered, leaving the insurgents to capture city after city.
How did the Taliban take advantage of low morale?
The seeds for the collapse were sown last year when Washington signed a deal with the insurgents to withdraw its troops completely.
For the Taliban, it was the beginning of their victory after nearly two decades of war. For many demoralised Afghans, it was betrayal and abandonment.
They continued to attack government forces but started to combine those with targeted killings of journalists and rights activists, ramping up an environment of fear.
They also pushed a narrative of inevitable Taliban victory in their propaganda and psychological operations.
Soldiers and local officials were reportedly bombarded with text messages in some areas, urging them to surrender or cooperate with the Taliban to avoid a worse fate.
Many were offered safe passage if they did not put up a fight, while others were reached through tribal and village elders.
What happened to the anti-Taliban warlords and their militias?
With Afghan forces unable to hold off the Taliban advances, many of Afghanistan's famed -- and notorious -- warlords rallied their militias and promised a black eye to the Taliban if they attacked their cities.
But with confidence plunging in the ability of Afghanistan's government to survive, never mind hold off the insurgents, the writing was also on the wall for the warlords.
Their cities fell without a fight. Warlord Ismail Khan in the western city of Herat was captured by the Taliban as it fell.
Abdul Rashid Dostum and Atta Mohammad Noor in the north fled to Uzbekistan, as their militia members abandoned humvees, weapons and even their uniforms on the road out of Mazar-i-Sharif.
THIS IS HOW TALIBAN TOOK OVER AFGHANISTAN SO QUICKLY
How were the Taliban able to do this so quickly?
The Taliban had started putting deals and surrender arrangements in place reportedly long before the launch of their blitz in May.
From individual soldiers and low-level government officials to apparently provincial governors and ministers, the insurgents pressed for deals -- with the Taliban all but victorious, why put up a fight?
The strategy proved immensely effective.
The images from their final march to Kabul were not of bodies in the streets and bloody battlefields, but of Taliban and government officials sitting comfortably on couches as they formalised the handover of cities and provinces.
According to one reported US estimate less than a month before the fall of Kabul, the Afghan government could collapse in 90 days.
But once the Taliban captured their first provincial capital, it took less than two weeks.
Russia's ambassador to Afghanistan will meet with the Taliban in Kabul on Tuesday, foreign ministry official Zamir Kabulov said.
"Our ambassador is in contact with the Taliban leadership, tomorrow he will meet with the Taliban security coordinator," Kabulov said in a interview to the Ekho Moskvy radio station on Monday, adding that Moscow will decide on recognising the new government based on its "conduct".
China said its embassy in Kabul is "still operating normally" amid Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan.
"We hope that the Taliban can unite with the different parties and different ethnic groups of Afghanistan to build a widely inclusive political framework that is fit for Afghanistan's situation, so as to lay the foundation for enduring peace in Afghanistan," China's foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said.
France said it will evacuate its personnel from Monday and they will be transported to a base in the United Arab Emirates which will reportedly serve as a military hub to ensure the back and forth between Abu Dhabi and Kabul during the repatriation operation.
Taliban fighters patrolled Kabul on Monday after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan's 20-year war as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the country.
President Ashraf Ghani had fled the country on Sunday night as Taliban militants encircled the capital capping a military victory that saw them capture several key cities in just 10 days.
Afghans gather at the tarmac of Kabul airport as they prepare to flee the country with the Taliban in control of the capital.
At least five people have been killed inside Kabul airport, according to Reuters.
Hundreds had gathered at the airport as US troops fired in the air amid the confusion as the US embassy in Kabul tweeted to tell American nationals and Afghans to "not travel to the airport".
The US said it had evacuated its entire embassy staff to the airport, but they were being kept separate from those without permission to travel.
The Taliban which has now become the dominant force in Afghanistan seeking to change the power equations in the country ran one of the world's most repressive governments from 1996 to 2001.
The Taliban, which means "students" in the Pashto language, emerged in 1994 around the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
It was one of the factions fighting a civil war for control of the country following the withdrawal of the Soviet Union and subsequent collapse of the government.
Major airlines including, United Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic said they were not using the Afghanistan's airspace.
Flight-tracking website FlightRadar24 showed few commercial flights over Afghanistan at 0300 GMT on Monday.
The US Federal Aviation Administration in July had imposed new flight restrictions over Afghanistan for US airlines and other US operators.
All commercial flights are suspended at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, a statement reads.— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) August 16, 2021
The statement calls on the people to avoid crowds at the airport. pic.twitter.com/qKwM8mFgQ1
Reports said US troops fired shots into the air at Kabul airport as Afghans crowded onto the tarmac.
India is the president of UNSC for the month of August and as the president takes crucial decisions on key meetings and agenda at the high table.
For any meeting to take place, India has to receive a request and a consensus need to be formed.
After consultations, a broad consensus at UNSC was achieved to have the meeting at 10 am EST (7.30 am IST) on Monday.
As US officials leave Afghanistan, former president Trump called Joe Biden to resign.
"It is time for Joe Biden to resign in disgrace for what he has allowed to happen to Afghanistan," Trump said in a statement.
Taliban took control of Kabul on Sunday just days before the US troop pullout from Afghanistan.
"What Joe Biden has done with Afghanistan is legendary. It will go down as one of the greatest defeats in American history," Trump said.
Biden had announced all US troops would be out of Afghanistan by August 31. However, ahead of the deadline the Taliban seized Kabul after surging through provincial capitals as they launched a massive offensive to retake key towns and districts in Afghanistan.
A US military helicopter is pictured flying above the US embassy in Kabul as officials leave the complex as Taliban take control of the capital.
European nations and the EU scrambled to evacuate their citizens and local staff from Kabul on Sunday, as NATO said it would keep the airport open.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance "was helping keep Kabul airport open to facilitate and coordinate evacuations" after consulting member countries.
European Council President Charles Michel tweeted that he was in close contact with Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief.
"Security of EU citizens, staff and their families is priority in short term," he added. "Equally clear that many lessons will need to be drawn."
Nepal has officially written letters to the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Japan and United Nations to help in the repatriation of Nepali nationals working in diplomatic missions and international organizations.
The development comes after the Taliban took control of the presidential palace soon after president Ashraf Ghani fled the country for Tajikistan.
Taliban are set to declare Afghanistan as an Islamic Emirate soon, as per senior members of the militant group.
US State Department said Kabul's Hamid Karzai international airport has been secured by the US military as hundreds gathered for the final evacuation from the country as the Taliban took control of the capital on Sunday.
The US embassy staff in the Afghan capital been completely evacuated.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday, saying he had done so to prevent a "flood of bloodshed", as the Taliban reached Kabul after an astonishing rout of government forces.
Ghani's departure from office was one of the key demands of the Taliban in months of peace talks with the government.
US President Joe Biden and other top officials were left stunned by the pace of the Taliban's nearly complete takeover of Afghanistan.
The planned withdrawal of US forces has now become a mission to ensure a safe evacuation.
The United States government on Monday lowered its flag at the Kabul embassy as diplomats and officials prepared to leave the country amid the Taliban advance into the capital.
The Pentagon and US State Department in a joint statement said: "We are completing a series of steps to secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport to enable the safe departure of US and allied personnel from Afghanistan via civilian and military flights."
Taliban have also claimed that they have no intention of "taking revenge" from the Afghan forces and the pro-government soldiers and officials should join hands with the Taliban for the 'betterment of the nation'.
After conquering Mazar-e-sharif and Jalalabad overnight, the Taliban turned towards Kabul and took control of the city by the end of the day. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, however, left the country in secret