Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani reportedly leaves the country

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s embattled president left the country Sunday, becoming a member of his fellow residents and foreigners in a stampede fleeing the advancing Taliban and signaling the finish of a 20-year Western experiment geared toward remaking Afghanistan.

The Taliban, who for hours had been on the outskirts of Kabul, introduced quickly after they’d transfer additional right into a metropolis gripped by panic the place helicopters raced overhead all through the day to evacuate personnel from the U.S. Embassy. Smoke rose close to the compound as employees destroyed essential paperwork. Several different Western missions additionally ready to tug their folks out.

Civilians fearing that the Taliban may reimpose the sort of brutal rule that every one however eradicated ladies’s rights rushed to depart the country as properly, lining up at money machines to withdraw their life financial savings. The desperately poor — who had left properties in the countryside for the presumed security of the capital — remained of their 1000’s in parks and open areas all through the metropolis.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected comparisons to the U.S. pullout from Vietnam, as many watched in disbelief at the sight of helicopters touchdown in the embassy compound.

President Ashraf Ghani flew out of the country, two officers advised The Associated Press, talking on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved to temporary journalists. Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council, later confirmed that Ghani had left.

“The former president of Afghanistan left Afghanistan, leaving the country in this difficult situation,” Abdullah stated. “God should hold him accountable.”

In a surprising rout, the Taliban seized almost all of Afghanistan in simply over per week, regardless of the billions of {dollars} spent by the U.S. and NATO over almost 20 years to construct up Afghan safety forces. Just days earlier, an American army evaluation estimated it could be a month earlier than the capital would come underneath rebel stress.

Instead, the Taliban swiftly defeated, co-opted or despatched Afghan safety forces fleeing from vast swaths of the country, though they’d some air assist from the U.S. army. But a peace cope with the U.S. restricted direct army motion concentrating on them, permitting them to organize and transfer rapidly to grab key areas when President Joe Biden introduced his plans to withdraw all American forces by the finish of this month.

Many rapidly drew comparisons between the fall of Kabul — helicopters rumbling overhead evacuating American diplomats — to the aftermath of the Vietnam War, which noticed much more chaotic airborne rescues. Pressed on CNN about it, Blinken stated: “This is not Saigon.” However, he acknowledged the “hollowness” of the Afghan safety forces.
“From the perspective of our strategic competitors around the world, there’s nothing they would like more than see us in Afghanistan for another five, 10, 20 years,” he stated. “It’s simply not in the national interest.”

On Sunday, the insurgents entered the outskirts of Kabul however initially remained outdoors of the metropolis’s downtown. Meanwhile, Taliban negotiators in Kabul mentioned the switch of energy, stated an Afghan official who spoke on situation of anonymity for concern of reprisals. It remained unclear when that switch would happen and who amongst the Taliban was negotiating.

The negotiators on the authorities facet included former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah, who has been a vocal critic of Ghani.

The official, who spoke on situation of anonymity to debate particulars of the closed-doors negotiations, described them as “tense.” Karzai himself appeared in a video posted on-line, his three younger daughters round him, saying he remained in Kabul.

“We are trying to solve the issue of Afghanistan with the Taliban leadership peacefully,” he stated, whereas the roar of a passing helicopter might be heard overhead.
Afghanistan’s appearing protection minister, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, didn’t maintain again his criticism of the fleeing president.

“They tied our hands from behind and sold the country,” he wrote on Twitter. “Curse Ghani and his gang.”

The insurgents tried to calm residents of the capital, insisting their fighters wouldn’t enter folks’s properties or intervene with companies. They additionally stated they’d provide an “amnesty” to those that labored with the Afghan authorities or international forces.
“No one’s life, property and dignity will be harmed and the lives of the citizens of Kabul will not be at risk,” the insurgents stated in a press release.

But there have been stories of revenge killings and different brutal techniques in areas of the country the Taliban have seized in latest days.
And on Sunday, panic set in as many rushed to depart the country via the Kabul airport, the final route out of the country as the Taliban now maintain each border crossing. NATO stated it was “helping to maintain operations at Kabul airport to keep Afghanistan connected with the world.”

One Afghan college scholar described feeling betrayed as she watched the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy.

“You failed the younger generation of Afghanistan,” stated Aisha Khurram, 22, who’s now uncertain of whether or not she’ll have the ability to graduate in two months’ time. “A generation … raised in the modern Afghanistan were hoping to build the country with their own hands. They put blood, efforts and sweat into whatever we had right now.”

The U.S. determined a number of days in the past to ship in 1000’s of troops to assist evacuate some personnel, and two officers stated Sunday that American diplomats have been being moved from the embassy to the airport. Military helicopters shuttled between the embassy compound and the airport, the place a core presence will stay for so long as potential given safety situations.

The officers weren’t approved to debate diplomatic actions and spoke on situation of anonymity.

The flights started a number of hours after the Taliban seized the close by metropolis of Jalalabad — which had been the final main metropolis apart from the capital not of their fingers.

Meanwhile, wisps of smoke might be seen close to the embassy’s roof as diplomats urgently destroyed delicate paperwork, in keeping with two American army officers who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved to debate the scenario. The smoke grew heavier over time in the space, house to different nation’s embassies as properly.

Afghan officers stated the militants additionally took the capitals of Maidan Wardak, Khost, Kapisa and Parwan provinces on Sunday.

The insurgents additionally seized the land border at Torkham, the final not of their management, on Sunday. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed advised native broadcaster Geo TV that Pakistan halted cross-border site visitors there after the militants seized it.

Later, Afghan forces at Bagram air base, house to a jail housing 5,000 inmates, surrendered to the Taliban, in keeping with Bagram district chief Darwaish Raufi. The jail at the former U.S. base held each Taliban and Islamic State group fighters.

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