White House Announces G7 Switch on Situation in Afghanistan | free press

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Washington / Kabul (dpa) – After the Taliban takes power in Afghanistan, the heads of state and government of the G7 countries plan to hold a video conference next week to discuss how to proceed.

The White House announced Tuesday evening that US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had agreed in a telephone conversation to set up such a G7 switch. The spontaneous online summit of the group of seven major industrialized countries is to discuss a common strategy and approach to the crisis in Afghanistan.

Blitz-like Vormasch

In recent weeks, following the withdrawal of foreign troops, the Taliban had taken virtually all provincial capitals in Afghanistan at breakneck speed – many without a fight. On Sunday, they finally moved to the capital, Kabul. There were no fights. The lightning strike surprised many observers, experts and also foreign governments.

After their swift conquest and the flight of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the Taliban have effectively regained power in the country – nearly 20 years after the start of the US-led military operation in Afghanistan. Many Afghans now fear a return to the reign of terror, as they did in the 1990s, when the Taliban were last in power. At the time, women and girls were systematically oppressed and artists and the media were censored. And the Islamists enforced their ideas with barbaric punishments.

Biden in the Critic

Biden announced last month that US troops would be completely withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of August – after which other NATO partners would also bring their soldiers home. This accelerated the advance of the Taliban enormously. The US president has been heavily criticized for his decision and its dramatic consequences.

The White House said Biden and Johnson spoke on the phone about the need for allies and Democratic partners to continually align their policies on Afghanistan. So are the ways in which the international community can provide humanitarian aid to refugees from Afghanistan. In addition to the United States and Great Britain, the G7 countries also include Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada.

Taliban: Conciliatory Tones

The militant Islamist Taliban had taken an emphatically conciliatory tone during their first press conference after the takeover on Tuesday and tried to bring the people of the country to safety. They claimed, among other things, that they wanted more political forces in power in Afghanistan and that they would fight for women’s rights under Islamic Sharia law. Your compatriots have nothing to fear – not even those who opposed the Islamists.

The US government reacted cautiously to the protests. Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, when asked if he trusted the Taliban announcements, said: “This is not about trust.” The Taliban should be measured by their words. When asked about possible US levers to put pressure on the Islamists, Sullivan only vaguely mentioned possible sanctions and steps to internationally condemn and isolate them.

In view of the ongoing evacuation campaigns in Kabul, the US is currently in talks with the Taliban, according to its own statements. Sullivan said the Islamists had promised to let civilians into the capital’s airport unimpeded. When asked, he said that according to US findings, people “generally” manage to get there. “There have been instances where we have been told that people have been turned away, pushed back or even beaten.” These matters would be raised with the Taliban.

Chaos in Kabul

The airport of the capital Kabul is considered the last area where the Taliban have no control. The troops still in the country have withdrawn there. Many Afghans who want to flee have also gathered there – in a desperate attempt to board a plane that will take them out of the country.

Chaotic scenes have taken place at Kabul airport in recent days. For example, a US Air Force plane took off there on Monday – surrounded by hundreds of civilians on the tarmac. Footage of the dramatic moment went viral: a video showed dozens of people walking alongside the rolling US military machine. Some climbed onto the plane and clung to it. The United States Air Force said on Tuesday that “human remains” had been discovered in the landing gear shaft after the plane landed in Qatar. The incident must be investigated.

Special Visa for the USA

The US has now sent several thousand soldiers to Kabul airport to ensure airport security and to organize the evacuation of, among others, Americans and former Afghan employees of the US armed forces who want to flee for fear of reprisals by the Taliban. The White House announced Tuesday evening that about 1,100 people had flown out on US military planes during the day. Since the processes are now established, the number should increase significantly in the coming days. In total, the US has evacuated about 3,200 people so far. In addition, nearly 2,000 Afghans have been brought to the United States for resettlement on special visas.

The Bundeswehr also started an airlift to rescue Germans and Afghans under the most trying conditions. Several Bundeswehr machines carrying Germans and local personnel evacuated from Kabul have already flown out. The first evacuated employees of the embassy in Kabul have now returned to Germany.