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Friday, September 24, 2021

Afghanistan Highlights: Biden defends Afghanistan exit, calls US evacuation ‘extraordinary success’

Afghanistan Highlights: In his address to the nation, Biden said that no evacuation mission at the end of a war can be done without challenges.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: September 1, 2021 7:06:22 am
world news, indian express news, indian express, news today,afghanistan, afghanistan news, india,taliban,afghanistan taliban,afghan,latest news,afghanistan latest news,afganistan,us afghanistan,afghanistan population,afghanistan news today,pakistan,taliban news,india news,afghanistan map,kabul,afghanistan population 2021,panjshir,afghan news,afghanistan currency,afghanistan news live,kabul airport,taliban map,afghanistan covid cases,us afghanistan news,population of afghanistan 2021,iskp afghanistan,afghanistan population 2021,panjshir valley, population of afghanistanA Taliban fighter holding an M16 assault rifle in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Reuters)

Afghanistan Highlights: US President Joe Biden on Tuesday addressed the nation and thanked the US military for their work in evacuating people since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. “No nation has ever done anything like it in all of history,” he highlighted. Biden also said that he accepts responsibility for the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan as staying there was no longer an option.  At any time, this exit would have been a very “difficult and dangerous mission,” Biden said adding that no evacuation mission at the end of a war can be done without challenges.

The Ministry of External Affairs Tuesday said that the Indian envoy in Qatar Deepak Mittal met Taliban leader Sher Mohammed Abbas Stanekzai in Doha. Ambassador Mittal raised India’s concern that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner, it said.

Earlier today, Taliban forces clashed with militia fighters in the Panjshir valley north of the Afghan capital Kabul on Monday night, losing eight killed, news agency Reuters reported citing a representative of the main anti-Taliban opposition group. Since the fall of Kabul on August 15, the Panjshir has been the only province to hold out against the Taliban, although there has also been fighting in neighbouring Baghlan province between Taliban and local militia forces.

The Taliban triumphantly marched into Kabul’s international airport on Tuesday, hours after the final US troop withdrawal that ended America’s longest war. Standing on the tarmac, Taliban leaders pledged to secure the country, quickly reopen the airport and grant amnesty to former opponents.

Live Blog

Afghanistan Highlights: US completes withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years; India officially talks to Taliban in Doha; 8 Taliban members killed near Panjshir valley. Follow updates here:

01:24 (IST)01 Sep 2021
I accept responsibility for my decision: Joe Biden on US withdrawal from Afghanistan

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that he accepts responsibility for the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan as staying there was no longer an option. This exit, Biden adds, done anytime would have caused the same amount of chaos and havoc. 

At any time, this still would have been a very "difficult and dangerous mission," Biden said adding that no evacuation mission at the end of a war can be done without challenges.

01:19 (IST)01 Sep 2021
US was ready for collapse of Afghan forces after withdrawal, says Biden

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday acknowledge that the Afghan military and government forces collapsed much faster than anticipated, but the US forces were prepared for this. “We were ready when the Afghan security forces…did not hold on as long as anyone expected,” he said.

01:16 (IST)01 Sep 2021
No nation has ever done anything like it: Biden on US evacuation efforts in Afghanistan

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday addressed the nation and thanked the US military for their work in evacuating people since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. “No nation has ever done anything like it in all of history,” he highlighted.

The evacuation of over 120,000 people from Kabul, Biden says, would not have been possible without the skill, bravery and selfless courage of the American troops.

23:47 (IST)31 Aug 2021
US President Joe Biden to speak on ending war in Afghanistan shortly

United States President Joe Biden will address the nation after ending its 20 year military presence in Afghanistan. Watch the address live here. 

23:18 (IST)31 Aug 2021
UN Chief Antonio Guterres warns of 'catastrophe' in Afghanistan

Amid the escalating crisis in Afghanistan each day, United Nations Chief Antonio Guterres on Tuesday warned of a "catastrophe" in the country and called for humanitarian assistance from the world.

22:53 (IST)31 Aug 2021
Leaving Afghanistan, US general’s ghostly image books place in history

Carrying his rifle down by his side, Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the storied 82nd Airborne Division, became the last US soldier to board the final flight out of Afghanistan a minute before midnight on Monday.

Taken with a night vision device from a side window of the C-17 transport plane, the ghostly green and black image of the general striding toward the aircraft waiting on the tarmac at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport was released by the Pentagon hours after the United States ended its 20-year military presence in Afghanistan.

As a moment in history, the image of Donahue’s departure could be cast alongside that of a Soviet general, who led an armoured column across the Friendship Bridge to Uzbekistan, when the Red Army made its final exit from Afghanistan in 1989. More details here.

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20:51 (IST)31 Aug 2021
'Few dozen' French nationals remain in Afghanistan: Defense Ministry

France says “a few dozen” French nationals remain in Afghanistan, including some who wanted to be evacuated but could not as the last flight left Kabul.

Defense Ministry spokesman Herve Grandjean said in a news conference Tuesday that “all efforts are being done” to allow those left behind to get “a safe and orderly evacuation.”

He said “that is the goal of the talks under way within the United Nations framework with the Taliban power.” (AP)

19:30 (IST)31 Aug 2021
Canada to take in 5,000 Afghan refugees evacuated by US 

Canada said on Tuesday it would take in and resettle some 5,000 Afghan refugees who had been evacuated by the United States after the withdrawal of the last American troops after almost two decades of war. "We're pulling out all the stops to help as many Afghans as possible who want to make their home in Canada," Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino was quoted as saying by Reuters.

"Over the weekend, Canada and its allies received assurances from the Taliban that Afghan citizens with travel authorization from other countries would be safely allowed to leave Afghanistan," he said.

Refugees from Afghanistan and Canadian Citizens board a bus after being processed at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Tuesday, Aug 17, 2021, after arriving indirectly from Afghanistan. (AP)
17:57 (IST)31 Aug 2021
India talks to Taliban: Discussions held on early return of stranded nationals in Afghanistan

The Ministry of External Affairs said that the discussions focused on safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan. The travel of Afghan nationals, especially minorities, who wish to visit India also came up. India also raised its concern that Afghanistan's soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner.

17:46 (IST)31 Aug 2021
Indian envoy in Qatar meets Taliban leader

The Ministry of External Affairs Tuesday said that the Indian envoy in Qatar Deepak Mittal met Taliban leader Sher Mohammed Abbas Stanekzai in Doha. “Discussions focused on safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan. The travel of Afghan nationals, especially minorities, who wish to visit to India also came up,” it said in a statement.

17:31 (IST)31 Aug 2021
Afghan refugee family eats poisonous mushroom in Poland

Doctors at Poland’s main children’s hospital said Tuesday that they will carry out a liver transplant on a 6-year-old Afghan boy who ate highly poisonous mushrooms with his family. However, his 5-year-old brother is in a coma and they are carrying out tests to establish if he is brain dead.

The boys and their older sister, recently evacuated from Afghanistan, were hospitalized last week. The family picked and ate highly poisonous death cap mushrooms in the forest near the center where they were accommodated in Podkowa Lesna, near Warsaw. More details here.

16:57 (IST)31 Aug 2021
Afghan government to be formed in days, says Pakistan foreign minister    

Afghanistan will form a government within days, Pakistan's foreign minister said on Tuesday, after weeks of uncertainty following the Taliban's conquest of the country. "We expect that a consensus government will be formed in the coming days in Afghanistan," Shah Mehmood Qureshi was quoted as saying by Reuters in Islamabad.

Pakistan wants peace, but India creating 'war frenzy': Shah Mehmood Qureshi  | Pakistan News,The Indian Express

16:21 (IST)31 Aug 2021
What happens now that US troops have left Afghanistan?

For the first time since 2001, there are no American troops in Afghanistan after the United States completed the evacuation of most of its citizens and thousands of at-risk Afghans. More than 114,000 people have been airlifted from Kabul airport in the past two weeks as part of the US effort. But the end of the US military involvement in Afghanistan raises a new set of questions for Biden and his administration. Click here to read our explainer.

Taliban walk in front of a military airplane a day after the US troops withdrawal from Hamid Karzai international airport n Kabul, Afghanistan August 31, 2021. (Reuters)
15:59 (IST)31 Aug 2021
Panjshir: Fighting occurred on western entrance of the valley 

Fahim Dashti, a spokesman for the National Resistance Forces, a group loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, told Reuters that the fighting occurred on the western entrance to the valley where Taliban attacked NRF positions. 

He said the attack, which may have been a probe to test the valley's defences, was repulsed with eight Taliban killed and a similar number wounded, while two members of the NRF forces were wounded. News agency Reuters said it was not immediately possible to reach a Taliban spokesman for comment.

Militiamen loyal to Ahmad Massoud, son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, take part in a training exercise, in Panjshir province, northeastern Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. (AP)
15:48 (IST)31 Aug 2021
Eight Taliban members killed in Panjshir, Afghan militia forces say

Taliban forces clashed with militia fighters in the Panjshir valley north of the Afghan capital Kabul on Monday night, losing eight killed, news agency Reuters reported citing a representative of the main anti-Taliban opposition group.

Since the fall of Kabul on Aug. 15, the Panjshir has been the only province to hold out against the Taliban, although there has also been fighting in neighbouring Baghlan province between Taliban and local militia forces.

Militiamen loyal to Ahmad Massoud, son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, take part in a training exercise, in Panjshir province, northeastern Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. (AP)

15:32 (IST)31 Aug 2021
Japan to relocate its Kabul embassy to Qatar

Japan's top diplomat says his country has temporarily moved its embassy from Afghanistan to Turkey but now plans to relocate it to Qatar, where the Taliban have an office. 

According to AP, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi earlier this month visited the Middle East. He told reporters on Tuesday that his talks with leaders in the region suggest that Doha, the capital of Qatar, will carry growing political importance.

The Gulf Arab country is also expected to play an important political role in what comes next for Afghanistan.

14:37 (IST)31 Aug 2021
High-level group monitoring developments in Afghanistan: Sources

A high-level group comprising External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval and a number of other senior officials is focusing on India's immediate priorities in Afghanistan following the drawdown of American forces from the country after 20 years of presence. Official sources said on Tuesday that the group has been meeting regularly over the last few days following a direction from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India's immediate priorities have been the safe return of the Indians still in Afghanistan, bringing back the Afghan nationals who stood by New Delhi, and ensuring that Afghan soil is not used for terrorism directed at India 'In view of the evolving situation in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently directed that a high-level group comprising of External Affairs Minister, the National Security Adviser and senior officials focus on the immediate priorities of India,' said a source. (PTI)

13:48 (IST)31 Aug 2021
Taliban declare victory from Kabul airport, promise security

The Taliban triumphantly marched into Kabul's international airport on Tuesday, hours after the final U.S. troop withdrawal that ended America's longest war. Standing on the tarmac, Taliban leaders pledged to secure the country, quickly reopen the airport and grant amnesty to former opponents.

In a show of control, turbaned Taliban leaders were flanked by the insurgents' elite Badri unit as they walked across the tarmac. The commandos in camouflage uniforms proudly posed for photos.

Getting the airport running again is just one of the sizeable challenges the Taliban face in governing a nation of 38 million people that for two decades had survived on billions of dollars in foreign aid. (AP)

12:37 (IST)31 Aug 2021
Response to Taliban: Russia, China, Pak in new regional structure, India calibrates stand
A Taliban elite unit on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan. (File/Victor J. Blue/The New York Times)

CALIBRATING its response to overtures Sunday by Taliban leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, New Delhi is keenly aware of the power structure emerging in the region.

Officials told The Indian Express that much before the Taliban takeover, India was being reminded by Russia of the need to come to terms with the shifting sands in Afghanistan.

China made its stand public when Foreign Minister Wang Yi met a Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Tianjin on July 28. “The Afghan Taliban,” Wang said, “is an important political and military force… expected to play an important role in the country’s peace, reconciliation and reconstruction process.” Read More

12:10 (IST)31 Aug 2021
As US military leaves Kabul, many Americans, Afghans remain

As the final five U.S. military transport aircraft lifted off out of Afghanistan, they left behind up to 200 Americans and thousands of desperate Afghans who couldn't get out and now must rely on the Taliban to allow their departure.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. will continue to try to get Americans and Afghans out of the country, and will work with Afghanistan's neighbors to secure their departure either over land or by charter flight once the Kabul airport reopens.

"We have no illusion that any of this will be easy, or rapid," said Blinken, adding that the total number of Americans who are in Afghanistan and still want to leave may be closer to 100.

A Taliban elite unit on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan. (File/Victor J. Blue/The New York Times)

Explained: What happens now that U.S. troops have left Afghanistan?

The end of the US military involvement in Afghanistan raises a new set of questions for Biden and his administration. The United States has evacuated more than 5,500 U.S. citizens since evacuation flights began on Aug. 14. A small number of American citizens have chosen to continue to stay in Afghanistan, many of them so they can be with family members.

The Biden administration has said it expects the Taliban to continue allowing safe passage for Americans and others to leave Afghanistan after the U.S. military withdrawal is completed. But there are concerns about how those citizens will be able to leave if there is no functioning airport. Tens of thousands of at-risk Afghans, such as interpreters who worked with the U.S. military, journalists and women's rights advocates, have also been left behind.

It is unclear what their fate will be but officials are concerned that the Taliban may retaliate against them. The Taliban have pledged to allow all foreign nationals and Afghan citizens with travel authorization from another country to leave Afghanistan, according to a joint statement issued by Britain, the United States and other countries on Sunday.

Dozens of desperate Afghans who had been trying to flee the Taliban before Tuesday’s deadline for the US withdrawal from Kabul made it to safety with help from an unexpected place: Instagram influencer Quentin Quarantino.

Quarantino is the alter ego of 25-year-old Tommy Marcus of New York City, previously best-known for his liberal memes and his jokes about opponents of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Along with his followers, Quarantino raised USD 7 million within days on GoFundMe to launch rescue missions into Afghanistan to evacuate as many people as possible, many of whom said they had been threatened by the Taliban.

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