Taliban declares ‘war is over’ as president and diplomats flee Kabul – News Vibe24

    Taliban declares 'war is over' as president and diplomats flee Kabul - Times of India
    KABUL: The Taliban say the war in Afghanistan is over after insurgents took control of the presidential palace in Kabul as US-led forces withdrew and Western nations tried to evacuate their civilians on Monday.
    President Ashraf Ghani left the country on Sunday as Islamist fighters entered the city, saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed, while hundreds of Afghans were desperate to leave Kabul’s flooded airport.
    “Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the mujahideen. They have seen the fruits of their efforts and sacrifices for 20 years,” Mohammad Naim, a spokesman for the Taliban, told Al Jazeera television.
    “Thank God, the war is over in the country.”
    Naim said the type and form of the new regime in Afghanistan would become clear soon, adding that the Taliban did not want to live in isolation and called for peaceful international relations.
    “We have achieved what we sought, which is the freedom of our country and the independence of our people,” he said. “We will not allow anyone to use our territory to target anyone and we do not want to harm others.”
    In Washington, opponents of President Joe Biden’s decision to end America’s longest war, which began after the September 11, 2001, attacks, said the chaos was caused by a leadership failure.
    U.S. diplomats were airlifted to the airport from their embassy in the fortified Wazir Akbar Khan area as Afghan forces were trained for years and equipped by the United States and others at a cost of billions of dollars, they melted.
    A State Department spokesman said early Monday that almost all embassy staff, including Ambassador Ross Wilson, were at the airport and that the American flag had been lowered and removed from the embassy building.
    At Kabul airport, hundreds of Afghans waited for flights, some dragged their luggage into corridors in the dark, while women and children slept near security corridors.
    A source at the airport said that some clashes broke out between people who could not find a place as the departures stopped.
    Local 1TV television reported multiple explosions in the capital after dark, but the city was largely quiet on Sunday.
    The emergency services said 80 injured people were taken to its hospital in Kabul, which was in good condition, and was only accepting people with life-threatening injuries.
    In a Facebook post, Ghani said he had left the country to avoid clashes with the Taliban that would endanger millions of Kabul residents.
    He did not say where he was and it was not clear where he was heading or exactly how power would be transferred after the Taliban took over Afghanistan.
    Al Jazeera showed earlier footage from Taliban commanders at the presidential palace with dozens of armed fighters.
    Some local social media users in Kabul called Ghani a coward because he left them in chaos. A tweet from the verified account of the Afghan embassy in India said: “We are all shaking our heads in shame.”
    SHARIA
    Many Afghans fear the Taliban will return to previous harsh practices in enforcing sharia or Islamic religious law. During their 1996-2001 rule, women could not work and were punished with stoning, flogging and hanging.
    The militants tried to project a more moderate face by promising to respect women’s rights and protect both foreigners and Afghans.
    “We are ready to engage in dialogue with all Afghans and we will guarantee them the necessary protection,” Naim told Al Jazeera Mubasher television.
    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on the Taliban and all other parties to show maximum restraint and expressed particular concern for the future of women and girls in Afghanistan.
    The Pentagon has authorized another 1,000 troops to help evacuate American citizens and Afghans working for them, a U.S. official has said.
    A senior U.S. defense official told Reuters Sunday night in Washington that about 500 people, mostly Americans, had been evacuated so far and that the number would rise to 5,000 a day when all US forces are in Kabul.
    European nations, including France, Germany and the Netherlands, have also said they are working to oust civilians as well as some Afghan officials from the country.
    Russia has said it does not see the need to evacuate its embassy at this time. Turkey has said its embassy will continue its operations.
    AMERICAN EXIT
    Asked if the images of the helicopters carrying personnel were provocative of the United States’ withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told ABC News: “Let’s take a step back. This is obviously not Saigon.”
    Biden has faced growing domestic criticism after following a plan launched by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, to end the US military mission in Afghanistan by August 31.
    In a statement Sunday, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell blamed Biden for what he called a “shameful failure of the US leadership.”
    “Terrorists and big competitors like China are watching the embarrassment of a superpower that has fallen,” McConnell said.
    Naim said the Taliban would adopt a policy of non-interference in the affairs of others in exchange for non-intervention in Afghanistan.
    “We do not believe that foreign forces will repeat their failed experience in Afghanistan.”

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