Without any ceremony, not even the raising of the flag or the regular formation to say goodbye to the last command of a mission that lasted 20 years. The departure of the last US military from Afghanistan on Monday was a silent historic moment that barely eased the chaos and violence surrounding the withdrawal. The usual barracks clarion call was replaced by messages from Washington, where President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed their withdrawal minutes after the Pentagon.
The president promised to explain to the nation why he did not extend the military mission to Afghanistan. And so it did this Tuesday, with a speech that formally seals an intervention with 2,400 soldiers killed — the last 13, on Thursday in a suicide bombing — and more than two billion dollars in investment. Biden called the evacuation of more than 124,000 people “an extraordinary success,” although he indicated that there are 100 to 200 Americans left in the country, which his government is still determined to remove. “Ninety percent of Americans who wanted to leave were able to do so; [agora] there is no deadline for leaving“, he highlighted. He also called the evacuation a “mission of mercy rather than war”, in favor of thousands of vulnerable Afghans and “in the midst of a situation fraught with risk”.
But mostly, it highlighted why the war ended. “There was only one option, leave the country or a military escalation (…) The decision to withdraw was the result of the unanimous recommendation of senior military commanders and senior government officials, as well as commanders in the field,” emphasized Biden. “Leaving Afghanistan was the best possible decision for the United States.”
“I don’t believe that US security and safeguards would be reinforced by the continued presence of our troops. The US has managed to do in Afghanistan what we intended to do [neutralizar a Al Qaeda e Osama Bin Laden]. The decision on Afghanistan also means the end of an era of major military operations to rebuild other countries… I refuse to continue a war that does not contribute to the general interest of the Americans,” he said, issuing a clear warning to the groups terrorist Islamic State (ISIS-K), perpetrator of Thursday’s bombing: “We’re not done with you yet.” “My decision is to ensure that Afghanistan is not used again as a platform to launch an attack against the United States,” he concluded.
From the military to diplomacy, the Joe Biden administration shifted its policy in Afghanistan on Monday, with a clear commitment to diplomatic channels to evacuate the remaining US, Afghan and other nationals — including a few hundred British—after the final takeover of the country by the Taliban. The transfer of the embassy from Kabul to Doha, announced a few minutes after the last plane took off, is just the symbol of this new phase, marked by distrust of the new Afghan rulers.
In two messages released soon after the Pentagon confirmed the departure of the last C-17s from Kabul, with the highest military command and ambassador on board, Biden and Blinken highlighted the necessary collaboration of the Taliban and their commitment to allow the departure of the country. for those who want to do that from now on. “I asked the Secretary of State for ongoing coordination with our international partners to ensure the safe departure of Americans, Afghan partners and foreigners who wish to leave Afghanistan,” Biden said in a statement on Monday.
In relation to the latecomers, he assured, “the Taliban gave their word that they will allow a safe exit and that the international community will see to it that they fulfill what they promised”, he underlined; “This includes reopening the airport to allow for departure as well as for the arrival of humanitarian aid.” The Taliban is studying with Qatar and Turkey, ready to provide technical support, the early resumption of flights. Blinken spoke about the Taliban’s commitment. “They will have to gain the legitimacy and support of the international community,” he declared. With international aid still pending on a topic, the United States on Tuesday recommended its citizens not to travel to the Central Asian country, issuing a level 4 alert.
If the Taliban fulfills its commitments, Washington does not rule out the possibility of providing long-term aid, although for the time being it continues to provide humanitarian assistance to the population through international organizations and NGOs. But all that involves dialogue and contact with the bearded ones is surrounded by conditionals. Jake Sullivan, the White House’s national security adviser, conditioned this possible aid on the correct behavior of the new regime in Kabul, as Biden and Blinken had done the day before.
“It depends on fulfilling your commitments: your commitments to a safe exit for the American and Afghan allies, your commitments not to allow Afghanistan to become a base from which terrorists can attack the United States or any other country, your commitments regarding compliance with their international obligations,” Sullivan told ABC News on Tuesday.
Thus, a waiting time is imposed, the traditional wait and see (wait to see), which on less turbulent occasions has been the common thread of foreign policy in many countries in the face of unforeseen conflicts. Now it will be for the first time in an unequal relationship: a superpower forced to wait, almost as an act of faith, for an insurgent group to do the right thing.
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