Kabul (AP) – After the Taliban invaded the Afghan capital Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani was forced to flee, the UN Security Council is dealing with the explosive situation in the crisis state. At the request of Estonia and Norway, the panel will hold a special session in New York today.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed deep concern and called on Islamist insurgents and all other parties to the conflict to “show extreme restraint”. The United Nations remains committed to contributing to a peaceful resolution of the conflict and to promoting the human rights of all Afghans, especially women and girls. It is also important to provide life-saving humanitarian aid and essential support to civilians in need, he said.
Huge territorial gains
Since US and NATO forces began withdrawing from Afghanistan in May, the militant Islamist Taliban have made huge territorial gains. Over the weekend they conquered other major cities and on Sunday evening they gradually moved to the metropolis of Kabul, where they occupied, among other things, the presidential palace.
According to media reports, the US plans to send about 1,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan in order to quickly conquer the Taliban. This would increase the number of US military personnel in or en route to Kabul to about 6,000. Its main task is to secure the international airport, from which employees from, for example, various embassies are flown.
The insurgents want to create an “Islamic emirate of Afghanistan,” just as they did before US troops entered in 2001. At the time, they enforced their concept of a “state of God” with draconian penalties: women and girls were systematically oppressed, artists and media censored, human rights violations were the order of the day.
Evacuation of the German Embassy
Given the dangerous situation, the federal government started evacuating the staff of the German embassy under great pressure. Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas (SPD) announced that on Sunday the first relatives must leave the country. In addition, the Bundeswehr transport planes would leave on Monday evening to fly people further out. The embassy in Kabul was initially closed and the employees there were taken to the military section of the airport. The US also began to evacuate their embassy.
Ghani wrote on Facebook to justify his escape, otherwise countless compatriots would have been killed and the city of Kabul destroyed. “I decided to go to avoid this bloodshed.” The Taliban had won their power by force of arms and were now responsible for protecting the lives, property and honor of the civilians.
Ghani’s departure is criticized
The chairman of the National Council for Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, expressed his outrage. He said in a video message that God holds Ghani responsible. The people will also condemn him. Abdullah gave no information about where Ghani left. Local media reported that he flew to Tajikistan.
The Taliban had taken almost all provincial capitals in the past week and a half. Many had fallen on her without a fight. They captured Mazar-i-Sharif in the north on Saturday evening and Jalalabad in the east on Sunday morning. Until a few weeks ago there was a large military camp in Mazar-i-Sharif and the German soldiers did not withdraw there until the end of June. The Bundeswehr recently trained Afghan security forces as part of NATO’s “Resolute Support” mission.
Blinken admits surprise
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken again defended the withdrawal of troops, but admitted that the United States was also surprised by the events. The local forces were unable to defend the country – “and faster than we expected”.
The Taliban tried to allay the population’s fear of chaos and violence. Suhail Shahin, a negotiator during talks with the Afghan government in Qatar, told the BBC: “We assure the people (…) in the city of Kabul that their belongings and their lives are safe.” There will be no revenge on anyone.
Chaotic scenes in Kabul
Nevertheless, chaotic scenes played out in Kabul and in the late evening at the airport: hundreds of people tried to board a plane at the airport, as videos in online networks showed. There was a shooting in the city in front of a bank, a resident of the city said. Many people tried to withdraw their savings and run errands. A soldier from Kabul said his entire unit had taken off their uniforms.
A resident of the Kart-e Tschar district said in the evening that the Islamists were already at the local police station. During the night, several Kabul residents reported hearing isolated gunshots. Many people had barricaded themselves at home.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Western states not to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s new government without prior consultation. Johnson said after a meeting of the national security cabinet that it was “very important that the West works together to make this new government – be it the Taliban or anyone else – understand that no one wants Afghanistan to become a breeding ground for terrorism again.”