The hardline Islamist Taliban celebrated its full return to power on Tuesday after the last US troops left Afghanistan to end a two-decade-long war.
The United States’ longest-running military conflict ended Monday night when its forces left Kabul Airport, where it monitored a plane carrying more than 123,000 people.
Taliban fighters then swiftly entered the airport and rained down weapons on the city, which was a cause for rejoicing – a few weeks after the September 11 attacks, followed by a US-led invasion in 2001 and in support of al Qaeda. Was dropped.
“Congratulations to Afghanistan. This is a victory for all of us,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters on the airport runway.
Mujahid said the Taliban’s victory was a lesson for other attackers.
In Kandahar, the spiritual birthplace of the movement and the country’s second largest city, thousands took to the streets to celebrate.
However, many Afghan Taliban fear a resumption of the Taliban’s early 1996-2001 rule, which was notorious for its treatment of women and girls, as well as for a brutal justice system.
The group has repeatedly promised a more tolerant brand than during the first term of government, and Mujahid has stuck to it.
“We want good relations with the United States and the world,” he said. We welcome good diplomatic relations with all of them.
Mujahid also insisted that the Taliban security forces be soft and good.
In a war-torn nation dependent on foreign aid, the Taliban face a daunting challenge of transforming from an insurgent group into a ruling power.
The United Nations on Tuesday warned of “humanitarian catastrophe” again, with food stocks dwindling due to disruptions caused by conflict and severe drought, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. International aid has been appealed.
Some Afghans have called on the Islamic Movement to live up to its promise of soft governance.
Fauzia Kofi, a rights activist and former ousted government negotiator who has twice escaped assassination attempts, called on the Taliban on Twitter to include all Afghans when they are inclined to rule.
“Taliban, listen to us: we must rebuild together!” He wrote. “This land belongs to all of us.”
Other workers struggled to find hope.
“If I let my thoughts lie on what we’ve lost, I’ll lose my mind,” said Muska Dastgir, a lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan.
The evacuation comes just before the August 31 deadline set by President Biden to end the war – which killed tens of thousands of Afghans and more than 2,400 US service members.
It ended shortly after the Islamic State group’s regional rival, the Taliban, threatened to attack US forces at the airport.
Thirteen U.S. soldiers were among more than 100 people killed last weekend when an IS suicide bomber struck near the airport, where frustrated Afghans gathered in hopes of boarding an evacuation flight. Was
The US-led airstrikes began as the Taliban completed a surprise run of government forces across the country and captured the capital on August 15.
Biden won after the withdrawal of almost all American troops, but was then forced to send back about 6,000 more to operate the plane.
Biden was scheduled to address the nation in Washington on Tuesday at 1845 GMT, as his critics continued to brutally attack him in order to secure his return.
“We can’t fight endless wars, but the scope and consequences of Biden’s failure are astonishing,” said Republican Sen. Rick Scott.
All eyes will now be on how the Taliban manage their first few days in the country with full control, focusing more on whether they will allow free movement for those who Some foreigners are also included.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said there were a small number of US citizens in the country – “less than 200” but possibly only close to 100 – and the UK said the number of British citizens inside was “in the low hundreds”. Is.
Thousands of Afghans who have worked with the US-backed government for years and fear retaliation also want to leave.
Western allies have expressed frustration in recent days that not all Afghans seeking refuge can board evacuation flights.
On Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it was important to keep the airport open, “both to enable the Afghan people to receive humanitarian aid and to ensure that we continue to evacuate.” Can keep “.
Officials from several countries have already begun meetings with the Taliban leadership, the latest being India.
Discussions are ongoing as to who will now run Kabul Airport, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned was of “existential importance” as a lifeline for aid.
Copyright AFP All rights reserved.