(Kabul) The Taliban informed the US on the planned date of Jan.
Posted on Aug 23, 2021 at 6:21 am Updated at 4:14 pm
David FOX Agence France-Presse
In Kabul, the situation around the airport remained chaotic and tense, where thousands of people gathered in fear of the Islamists’ return to power in hopes of leaving their country on planes chartered from the West.
In the morning, American and German soldiers responsible for protecting and monitoring these evacuations exchanged fire with unknown attackers. An Afghan security guard was killed and three injured, the Bundeswehr announced on Twitter.
President Joe Biden this weekend raised the possibility of extending the American presence at Kabul airport beyond August 31, where the last of the Western soldiers and diplomats coordinating the evacuations are hiding.
He had previously set this date for the completion of the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and the end of a twenty-year war.
The White House made it clear that all American nationals should be able to be evacuated before that date.
“As the president said, we believe we have until August 31st (August) to evacuate all Americans who wish,” said Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to President Biden.
But the Taliban raised their tone on Monday against a possible extension of this deadline. “The answer is no,” otherwise “there will be consequences,” replied a Taliban spokesman, Suhail Shaheen.
Two sources within the new regime then told AFP that the Taliban would not announce the formation of a government while US soldiers were in Afghanistan.
Since suddenly taking power on August 15, the Taliban have been trying to convince the population that they have changed and that their regime will be less brutal between 1996 and 2001 than the previous one.
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But that doesn’t stop the flow of those who don’t believe in their promises and want to leave at any cost.
Tens of thousands of foreigners, but also Afghans who were threatened by the Allies or worked for the Allies, have already been evacuated by the Western powers in the past few weeks.
Sanctions in the G7 menu
But many others are waiting for the exfiltration, hence the idea of postponing the August 31 deadline by a few days to complete the evacuation.
France considers this period “necessary” to “carry out the current operations”, stressed its foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
For its part, the German government stated that it was in talks with the US, Turkey and other partners to stop Kabul airport after the 31st after the withdrawal of American troops.
London announced on Monday that it would also be a question of imposing sanctions on the Taliban for an extension of the evacuations beyond the 31st, as Canada in particular would like.
The United States announced Monday that it had evacuated 16,000 people in the past 24 hours, bringing the number to 42,000 since July, including 37,000 since operations intensified on August 14, the day before Kabul was captured by the Taliban. The White House hopes to exfiltrate up to 15,000 Americans, but also 50,000 to 60,000 Afghans and their families.
Germany helped more than 2,500 people exit, Britain more than 5,700 and Belgium 700. France said it hosted nearly 1,200 people between August 17 and 22, including “nearly a thousand Afghans. And Afghans threatened”.
Powerful images of people being crushed in hand-to-hand combat, of young men clinging to the fuselage of a departing American plane, or of this baby that American soldiers have slung over a wall at arm’s length are circulating around the world.
“There is no way you can evacuate so many people without causing pain or loss or the heartbreaking images you see,” warned Biden.
Still hoping for a miracle, families remain crammed between the barbed wire that separates the Taliban from American troops, and access to the airport remains very difficult.
French Ambassador to Afghanistan David Martinon said Monday that three doors to the airport were closed, forcing France to find “other means” to transport potential evacuees there.
A senior Taliban official, Amir Khan Mutaqi, blamed the airport on Sunday for the chaos in the United States and warned that it could not last long.
“There is peace and quiet throughout the country, but there is nothing but chaos at Kabul Airport […] This has to stop as soon as possible, ”he warned.
In the rest of the capital, the situation actually appeared to be rather calm. Armed Taliban fighters patrol the streets and are stationed at checkpoints.
Iran, a neighbor who is concerned about the consequences of the conflict in Afghanistan, called on “all parties” in Afghanistan on Monday to negotiate the formation of a government that “represents the diversity of the country”.
Although a government has not yet been formed and talks with Afghan figures have continued to include other factions, the Taliban have tried to enforce their authority.
They replaced the national tricolor on all public buildings with their white flag, adorned in black with an Islamic creed and the official name of their regime: Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
The Islamists entered the capital without resistance on August 15 after a lightning offensive that began in May after the start of the withdrawal of American and NATO forces.
But in the Panchir Valley, northeast of Kabul, a nose of resistance has formed around the National Resistance Front (FNR), led by Ahmad Massoud, the son of commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, who was murdered by Al-Qaida in 2001, and Amrullah Saleh, deputy President of the overthrown government.
The Taliban confirmed on Monday that they had surrounded Panchir but preferred negotiations to combat.
FNR spokesman Ali Maisam Nazary told the AFP news agency that the front was preparing for a “prolonged conflict” with the Taliban if a compromise on a decentralized system of government could not be found with them.