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Thursday June 13, 2024

War is over: Taliban

The Taliban declared the war in Afghanistan over after taking control of the presidential palace in Kabul while Western nations scrambled to evacuate their citizens amid chaos at the airport.

By News Report
August 17, 2021

KABUL: The Taliban declared the war in Afghanistan over after taking control of the presidential palace in Kabul while Western nations scrambled to evacuate their citizens amid chaos at the airport.

"Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the Mujahideen. They have 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 in the country," he declared. Naeem said the form of the new regime would be made clear soon, adding that they did not want to live in isolation and called for peaceful international relations.

"We have reached what we were seeking, which is the freedom of our country and the independence of our people. We will not allow anyone to use our lands to target anyone, and we do not want to harm others," he said.

Naeem said the Taliban would adopt an international policy of two-way non-interference. "We do not think that foreign forces will repeat their failed experience." Talking to a UK-based international wire agency, a Taliban leader said they were regrouping from different provinces, and would wait until foreign forces had left before creating a new governance structure.

The leader said Taliban fighters had been "ordered to allow the Afghans to resume daily activities and do nothing to scare civilians". "Normal life will continue in a much better way, that's all I can say for now," he said.

Meanwhile, the American flag was removed at the US Embassy in Kabul on Sunday, while some staff remained to process visas. Several other countries have been evacuating their diplomatic employees, moving staff to Kabul's airport and/or reducing staff numbers to a small group of diplomats.

These include the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Spain and Canada — which have suspended their diplomatic operations in Afghanistan. Germany and Norway have closed their Kabul embassies altogether, while Denmark temporarily shut its diplomatic quarters in the Afghan capital. Australia's Kabul embassy has been closed since May.

The embassies of Pakistan, Turkey, China and Russia however remained open to facilitate people wanting to leave their respective countries. There were chaotic scenes at the Kabul airport and on roads out of capital on Monday, as thousands of Afghans attempted to flee following the country's fall to the Taliban.

At least seven people were killed during the chaos, including several people who plunged to their deaths after clinging on to a US military jet that took off from the runway. US troops fired shots into the air and all commercial flights were cancelled as chaos broke out on the tarmac.

Dramatic footage posted on social media shows hundreds of men running alongside a US Air Force plane as it rolls down the runway, with some clinging to the side of it. In other videos, civilians frantically clamber up an already overcrowded and buckling set of airstairs.

Crowds watched on, as those who successfully climbed the stairs helped others up, while some hung from the stair railings by their hands. US soldiers killed two armed men at the Kabul airport Monday as thousands of people flocked to the terminal seeking to flee Afghanistan, a Pentagon official said.

"In the thousands of people who were there peacefully, two guys who had weapons brandished them menacingly. They were both killed," the official said. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden will deliver comments "soon" about Afghanistan, a key aide said Monday as the US leader faces sharp criticism for the Taliban sweep into Kabul and the government´s fall.

"They (Americans) can expect to hear from the president soon. He´s right now actively engaged with his national security team. He is working the situation hard," White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told ABC.

He did not elaborate on timing or the form of the comments from Biden, who spent the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat and was due to remain there until midweek. In a related development, China Monday said it was ready to deepen "friendly and cooperative" relations with Afghanistan.

China said it welcomed the chance to deepen ties with Afghanistan, a country that has for generations been coveted for its geo-strategic importance by bigger powers. "The Taliban have repeatedly expressed their hope to develop good relations with China, and that they look forward to China´s participation in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing.

"We welcome this. China respects the right of the Afghan people to independently determine their own destiny and is willing to continue to develop... friendly and cooperative relations with Afghanistan."

Hua called on the Taliban to "ensure a smooth transition" of power and keep their promises to negotiate the establishment of an "open and inclusive Islamic government" and ensure the safety of Afghans and foreign citizens.

China´s embassy in Kabul remains operational, Hua said, although Beijing began evacuating Chinese citizens from the country months ago amid the deteriorating security situation.

Russia said its ambassador to Afghanistan will meet with the Taliban in Kabul on Tuesday (today) and that it will decide on whether to recognise the new government based on its conduct.

Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov told Russian media meanwhile from Kabul that the Taliban have already established "public order," have even kept girls schools open and are guarding the Russian embassy.

"Our ambassador is in contact with the Taliban leadership, tomorrow he will meet with the Taliban security coordinator," foreign ministry official Zamir Kabulov said in an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station on Monday.

He said the talks between ambassador Zhirnov and the Taliban would centre on how the group plans to provide security for the Russian embassy in the Afghan capital. EU foreign ministers will hold emergency talks via videolink Tuesday (today) on the situation in Afghanistan as European nations scramble to evacuate personnel from the country, officials said.

"Following latest developments in Afghanistan, and after intense contacts with partners in the past days and hours, I decided to convene an extraordinary VTC (video teleconference) of EU Foreign Ministers tomorrow afternoon for a first assessment," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted on Monday.

"Afghanistan stands at a crossroad. Security and wellbeing of its citizens, as well as international security are at play." Nato envoys will hold emergency talks on Tuesday (today) on the situation in Afghanistan.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will then hold a news conference at 1300 GMT -- his first appearance before the media since June -- as the alliance reels following the collapse of the Afghan government forces. Stoltenberg tweeted Sunday that Nato was "helping keep Kabul airport open to facilitate and coordinate evacuations".