The US military has rendered aircraft, vehicles, and an anti-missile defence system useless before the withdrawal from the Afghan capital, Kabul. That’s what US General Kenneth McKenzie said.
The American soldiers “demilitarized” 73 aircraft. “Those planes will never fly again,” McKenzie said. “Nobody can use them anymore.”
The Americans also left behind 70 MRAP mine-resistant vehicles. These devices have a price tag of about one million dollars each. Also, 27 Humvee army vehicles were left behind, which were also rendered useless.
US diplomatic mission for Afghanistan moves to Qatar
The United States is also moving its diplomatic mission for Afghanistan from Kabul to Doha in Qatar. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced this. Blinken explained in a speech afterward that the military mission has now ended but that “a new diplomatic mission” has begun.
On Monday evening, the Pentagon announced that the US military had left Afghanistan altogether.
Blinken explained the next steps after the military withdrawal. First of all, a new team will be assembled for the new diplomatic mission.
According to the minister, the Americans will continue to work to help compatriots and entitled Afghans who want to leave. Even if Americans or Afghans decide later that they want to leave Afghanistan, they will be helped, Blinken emphasized. Between 100 and 200 Americans are said to be still in the country and want to leave.
Earlier in the day, the US ambassador to Afghanistan took off on the last plane from the country, “suspending” the US diplomatic presence in Kabul. The activities will be transferred to Qatar. From there, contacts will be made with the Taliban, among other things.
About the Taliban, Blinken said the Americans would judge based on what the new rulers in Afghanistan are doing to respect their commitments. The Taliban said that the legitimacy and support they want would have to earn.
The minister also announced that the US would continue to provide humanitarian aid to the Afghan people. This will not be done through the Afghan government but through independent UN agencies and NGOs.
President Joe Biden will not address the population about the withdrawal from Afghanistan until Tuesday afternoon. He said in a statement that the decision to stick to the August 31 departure deadline was made after unanimous advice from the army’s top.
Taliban celebrate with joy shots and fireworks
The United States completed its operation in Afghanistan a day ahead of schedule. All troops have left the country. The last soldier to board the plane is Major General Chris Donahue. The Ministry of Defense released a symbolic image of this. The evacuations of foreigners and Afghans from Kabul airport have been halted. The Taliban celebrated the American departure with joy shots and fireworks in Kabul.
The US military shared a symbolic photo taken with night vision goggles. It shows how Major General Chris Donahue is the last American soldier to board the last evacuation flight from Kabul. AT A PRESS CONFERENCE, US GENERAL KENNETH MCKENZIE SAID the C-17 plane took off one minute before midnight in Kabul.
123,000 civilians evacuated
Since August 14, a day before the Taliban takes power in the country, the US and its coalition partners have evacuated more than 123,000 civilians from Afghanistan, General Frank McKenzie, who led the operation, said. These include citizens who, in addition to Afghan, also have American or other nationality, but also translators, local embassy employees, civil rights activists, journalists, and other Afghans who are vulnerable to reprisals by the Taliban.
McKenzie said there was no transfer, but the Americans told the “helpful” Taliban when they would leave. He admitted that it was impossible to get all Americans out of the country because they could not reach the airport.
Now that the Americans have completed their operation, thousands of Afghans still remain in the country who have helped Western countries and may have been eligible for evacuation. They now risk being persecuted in their own country by the Taliban.
According to McKenzie, there were no more evacuees at the airport during the retreat. At Hamid Karzai International Airport, there is now no longer an aviation authority, and there is no longer any control over Afghan airspace, according to the American aviation authority FAA.
Joyful shots and fireworks
After the last American plane took off, the Taliban celebrated the departure with joy shots in Kabul. Shots were fired in the air at several places in the Afghan capital, and fireworks were also seen over the city.
The withdrawal is a victory for “all Afghans,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said from Kabul airport on Tuesday. “The defeat of US troops in Afghanistan is a great lesson for other invaders and for our future generations,” it said. The Taliban also plan to maintain “good diplomatic relations” with the United States and the rest of the world, spokesman Mujahid said.
A day earlier than planned
President Joe Biden had foreseen the end of the operation at the latest. He inherited the troop withdrawal agreement from his predecessor Donald Trump, who agreed with the Taliban to bring US soldiers back from Afghanistan during his tenure. Biden has always shown strong support for the end of the military operation in Afghanistan, sticking to the August 31 date after delaying the earlier May 1 deadline.
However, the US president has been criticized both at home and abroad for not expecting the Taliban to take power so quickly in Afghanistan, forcing the US and its NATO allies to pull out quickly.
Many Western countries urged the US to postpone its withdrawal from Afghanistan in order to continue the evacuation operation. Biden, however, refused, partly because of fear of terrorist attacks on American soldiers.
Last week, an IS-K suicide bomber blew himself up at an American checkpoint at Kabul airport. 170 people were killed, including 13 American service members. Biden then promised that the US would hunt down the perpetrators and make them pay.
20 years presence
The US military invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after the September 11 attacks by al-Qaeda in the United States. That happened after the Taliban, the then rulers of Afghanistan, refused to extradite the terror group leader. The Taliban were ousted, and NATO countries sent troops to Afghanistan at the request of the US.
In the following years, a new government was installed, and foreign troops remained to ensure security and help rebuild. The Taliban were defeated but not gone. They carried out attacks and tried to recapture areas and prepare local rulers for a change of power.
After years of negotiations, the Taliban and the US reached an agreement in 2020 on the departure of the US and NATO. They have made rapid progress in recent months. They returned to power with the capture of Kabul in mid-August.