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Friday, January 21, 2022

World reacts to Taliban takeover of Afghanistan


As Afghanistan falls to Taliban rule, the international community has reacted to the latest developments.

In just one day, the world witnessed how the trillion dollar, two-decades-long ‘War on Terror’ waged by the US in Afghanistan had crumbled. The rapid Taliban advancement was described by many as an exhibit of Washington’s failure to “eradicate terrorism” in the war torn Islamic republic.

The US’ longest war had a hefty price tag of $2.26 trillion dollars, according to the latest Brown University’s Costs of War. Some 241,000 lives have been killed since the US invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

71,344 of these casualties were civilians, at least 47,245 of which died in Afghanistan while 24,099 were killed in neighbouring Pakistan.

“If you go to any province, whether you go to a village that belongs to the government, civilians or the Taliban, all you see are graves, and graves, and graves—so this is becoming a country of graveyards,” Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary previously told Doha News.

While the US had spent trillions on its third most expensive war thus far, 90 percent of Afghanistan’s population was living on less than $2 a day.

Just moments after the Taliban captured Kabul on Sunday, solidifying its rule over the entirety of the state, images of Afghans clinging onto planes and flooding the tarmac of the city’s airport in desperate attempts to flee the country were seen plastered on television screens and global headlines.

United Nations

In response to the unravelling events, Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) António Guterres urged the world to accept Afghan refugees.

“As the world is following events in Afghanistan with a heavy heart, I urge all countries to be willing to receive Afghan refugees & refrain from deportations. Afghans have known generations of war & hardship. They deserve our full support. Now is the time for solidarity,” the UN chief said.

The war has resulted in at least 2.7 million of Afghanistan’s population of 38 million fleeing, only to become refugees in neighbouring Pakistan, Iran and beyond. According to the UN, an additional four million are internally displaced.

Guterres also called on the world to work together to “suppress the global terrorist threat in Afghanistan” after the insurgents took control of the war-torn country.

The UN also called upon the international community to ensure that Afghanistan does not become a ‘breeding ground for terrorism under the Taliban.’

Qatar urges peaceful power transition as Afghanistan falls to Taliban

Gulf Cooperation Council and region

Bahrain has said it will initiate consultations with the other Gulf states regarding the situation in Afghanistan as the current chair of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

“The council of ministers has tasked the foreign minister to coordinate and consult with the GCC states regarding the developments in Afghanistan, in the framework of Bahraini presidency” of the group which also includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman.

Qatar, which is hosting inconclusive Afghan peace talks, is so far the only GCC country to have commented on the situation since the Taliban took control of Kabul.

The Gulf state joined over 50 countries in calling for “a safe and orderly departure” for Afghans and foreign nationals wanting to flee the country.

“Those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan bear responsibility—and accountability—for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order,” read the joint statement, released by the US Department of State.

Meanwhile, the Grand Mufti of Oman Ahmad bin Hamad al-Khalili issued a statement on Monday congratulating the Afghan people for the toppling of the US’ military presence in Afghanistan.

“We congratulate the brotherly Muslim people of Afghanistan for the clear victory and the grand conquering of the aggressor invaders, and we also congratulate ourselves and the entire Islamic nation for the fulfilment of God’s sincere promise,” Khalili wrote on Twitter.

A similar sentiment was shared by Gaza’s ruling authority, Hamas which also praised the end of the US’ 20-year invasion of Afghanistan. Hamas welcomed “the defeat of the American occupation on all Afghan land,” in a statement on Monday.

Over in Iran, newly-inaugurated President Ebrahim Raisi said the “defeat” of the US in the neighbouring country should be taken as a chance to “revive life, security and lasting peace” in Afghanistan

Outgoing Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the reign of the will of the wronged people of Afghanistan has always created security and stability”.

US President Joe Biden

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden defended the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan even after the Taliban takeover.

“I stand squarely behind my decision … the developments of the past week reinforce that ending US military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision,” he said in a speech. 

Last month, Biden had rejected worries that a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was inevitable as well as claims of the Afghan government’s collapse.

“You have the Afghan troops at 300,000, as well equipped as any army in the world, and an Air Force, against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable,” said Biden during a July press conference.

The US president also said that there were no parallels between this troop withdrawal and the US military pullout from South Vietnam in 1973.

“There’s going to be no circumstance you see people being lifted off the roof of the US embassy from Afghanistan,” he claimed at the time.

This week, many compared the sight of US helicopters evacuating troops from rooftops in Kabul to the same, eerily similar sight from Saigon in 1975.

A state of panic

The Taliban entered the Afghan presidential palace on Sunday after taking control of all provincial capitals over the past week, declaring complete control over Afghanistan with the fall of Kabul.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled to Tajikistan hours after reported negotiations with the Taliban at the palace to ensure a peaceful transition of power.

Shortly after the Taliban captured the palace, the US rushed to evacuate its personnel from the Hamid Karzai Airport. As a result, Afghans were not allowed to enter the airport, prompting crowds to break through.

Footage that emerged online showed Afghans scurry to board planes as US troops fired gunshots in the air to repel the crowds. Shocking footage also showed Afghans falling from the sky after latching on to the outside of planes in a last ditch attempt to flee the country.

The death toll from Monday’s chaos at Kabul’s international airport is now at least seven.

Worries over the Taliban’s seizure have increased over the past week. In particular, Afghan women and girls have been left fearful of their fate due to the group’s previous treatment of females.

When the Taliban ruled in the late 1990’s to 2001, women were not allowed to work and were denied education, in addition to a number of laws restricting their freedom.

However, the Taliban has announced “amnesty” for all in Afghanistan and urged women to join its government.

Member of the Taliban’s Cultural Commission Enamullah Samangani said, on Afghan state television, that “the Islamic Emirate don’t want women to be victims.”

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