The Taliban seized more major cities as they raced to take full control of Afghanistan and inched closer to Kabul, with Britain and the United States deploying thousands of troops to evacuate their citizens from the capital.
President Ashraf Ghani’s departure comes hours after the Taliban ordered their fighters to the outskirts of Kabul and demanded a peaceful transfer of power.
Asked for comment, the president’s office said it “cannot say anything about Ashraf Ghani’s movement for security reasons”. A representative of the Taliban, which entered the capital Kabul earlier on Sunday, said the group was checking on Ghani’s whereabouts.
An Afghanistan government delegation will travel to Qatar on Sunday to meet with representatives of the Taliban, an Afghanistan negotiator said.
The Taliban now control ‘multiple’ Kabul districts in Kabul claiming they are there to “ensure security.”
Reuters news agency cited a spokesman for the group as saying they now control the centers of 11 districts of the capital.
Reuters cited a NATO official as saying that all commercial flights to and from Kabul airport have been suspended and only military aircraft are allowed to operate.
The closure comes as US and European embassies attempt to evacuate their nationals and diplomatic staff.
Fawzi Koofi, a member of the Kabul negotiating team, confirmed to Reuters the delegation would meet with the Taliban in the Gulf state after the militant group earlier entered Kabul.
A source familiar with the matter said the Afghan delegation and Taliban representatives would discuss a transition of power, adding that officials from the United States would also be involved. Senior official Abdullah Abdullah will be part of the Afghan delegation.
PHOTO 1: US diplomat evacuate US from embassy via helicopter as the #Taliban enter #Kabul from all sides. #Afghanistan (2021)— Stefan Simanowitz (@StefSimanowitz) August 15, 2021
PHOTO 2: US diplomat evacuate US from embassy via helicopter as the PAVN & Viet Cong capture of Saigon, Vietnam (1975) pic.twitter.com/YamWmzjOay
A spokesman for the Taliban said it expects a peaceful transition of power in the next few days. Suhail Shaheen said the group would protect the rights of women, as well as freedoms for media workers and diplomats.
“We assure the people, particularly in the city of Kabul, that their properties, their lives are safe,” the spokesman said in an interview with the BBC.
“Our leadership had instructed our forces to remain at the gates of Kabul, not to enter the city.
“We are awaiting a peaceful transfer of power,” he said, adding the Taliban expected that to happen in a matter of days.
Earlier on Sunday an interior ministry official in Afghanistan said the militant Islamist group was coming into Kabul “from all sides” but gave no further details.
A tweet from the Afghan presidential palace account said firing had been heard at a number of points around Kabul but that security forces, in coordination with international partners, had control of the city.
A Taliban official said the group did not want any casualties as it took charge but had not declared a ceasefire.
Tony Blair selling war
‘To the Afghan people we make this commitment … We will not walk away, as the outside world has done so many times before’– TONY BLAIR’S SPEECH TO LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE, 2001
It was with that promise Tony Blair and the Labour Party took the UK into yet another war.
“To the Afghan people we make this commitment. The conflict will not be the end. We will not walk away, as the outside world has done so many times before.
If the Taliban regime changes, we will work with you to make sure its successor is one that is broad-based, that unites all ethnic groups, and that offers some way out of the miserable poverty that is your present existence.
And, more than ever now, with every bit as much thought and planning, we will assemble a humanitarian coalition alongside the military coalition so that inside and outside Afghanistan, the refugees, millions on the move even before September 11, are given shelter, food and help during the winter months.
The world community must show as much its capacity for compassion as for force.
The critics will say: but how can the world be a community? Nations act in their own self-interest. Of course they do. But what is the lesson of the financial markets, climate change, international terrorism, nuclear proliferation or world trade? It is that our self-interest and our mutual interests are today inextricably woven together.
This is the politics of globalisation.”
-TONY BLAIR’S SPEECH TO LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE, 2001
20 years later the cost of Blairs so-called politics of globalization is measured in the blood of 456 British military deaths, 64,100 Afgan military and police deaths, 71,000 civilian deaths, a total of 241,000 killed in this Afghan conflict and a broken promise, a people left abandoned.
The UK have a moral duty to open its doors to the Afghan refugees who are now abandoned.