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Afghanistan formally handed over to the Taliban

The insurgents have proclaimed the "complete independence" of the Afghan country after the departure of the last US soldier from the Asian nation
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (Centre) speaks to the media at Kabul airport on 31 August 2021.

AFP/WAKIL KOHSAR  -   Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (Centre) speaks to the media at Kabul airport on 31 August 2021

The last US military personnel have left Afghanistan and the Taliban have automatically proclaimed the country's "complete independence" following the final withdrawal of international troops from the Asian nation. 

The last US plane left Kabul airport at midnight tonight and there is no longer any trace of a foreign presence in the hitherto ungovernable Asian country. Once again, the untamed Afghan nation has provoked the departure of what it saw as invaders and the new power holders, the Taliban, have decreed Afghanistan's "complete independence" from foreign elements. History is repeating itself, as with the departure of the Soviets who invaded Afghanistan, and now it is the turn of the US troops to leave. 

At Kabul airport itself, which in recent days has witnessed scenes of mass evacuations of foreign personnel and their Afghan collaborators and other Dantesque images of citizens trying to flee in some way from the expected regime, the Taliban leaders have taken the floor to definitively stage their seizure of power, with the possible announcement of a new government in the next few days.  

Combatientes de las fuerzas especiales talibanes Badri toman posición en el aeropuerto de Kabul el 31 de agosto de 2021
AFP/WAKIL KOHSAR - Taliban Badri special forces fighters take position at Kabul airport on August 31, 2021.

In this way, the Taliban group announced the "complete independence" of Afghanistan and launched the promise to form an "inclusive" government, shortly after the complete departure of foreign soldiers after 20 years of war and foreign military presence that began in 2001 with the US intervention on Afghan territory in response to the 9/11 attacks and for the search and elimination of the leader of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, the main target of the terrorist attacks suffered by the American giant. 

Afghanistan succeeded in "gaining its independence from foreign forces", the Taliban's chief spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told a press conference at Kabul airport.

This statement came a few hours after the last US soldier left Afghan territory, thus giving effect to the announcement made by US President Joe Biden that the end of August would see the complete withdrawal of the US military from Afghan territory. The image of this last soldier, General Chris Donahue, marks the scene of the total abandonment of the area and makes it clear that there is no turning back, leaving the way clear for the Taliban to take full control of the situation. 

El general de División Chris Donahue
AFP PHOTO/JACK HOLT/US CENTCOM - Major General Chris Donahue

US General Kenneth McKenzie explained at a press conference that the last C-17 aircraft took off from Kabul airport on 30 August at 19:29. He noted that US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ross Wilson and the aforementioned General Chris Donahue were the last to leave Kabul. "The State Department and Defence Department teams were, in fact, the last people to board the plane," McKenzie noted. 

"Tonight's withdrawal signifies both the end of the evacuation of military materiel and the end of nearly 20 years of a mission that began in Afghanistan shortly after 9/11," added Kenneth McKenzie, who noted that it was "a mission that brought Osama bin Laden to justice along with other elements of al-Qaida.

Zabihullah Mujahid congratulated the fighters of the Taliban forces from Kabul airport, who made rapid progress in conquering several provinces until the recent seizure of Kabul on 15 August, which precipitated the events, taking advantage of the departure of international troops. 

El portavoz talibán Zabihullah Mujahid habla con la unidad militar Badri 313 en el aeropuerto de Kabul, Afganistán, el 31 de agosto de 2021
PHOTO/TALIBAN via REUTERS - Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaks to the Badri 313 military unit at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 31, 2021.

"It is because of your sacrifices (...) that we have achieved independence today. I want to congratulate you all and our nation on this independence. We hope that Afghanistan will never be occupied again and will remain independent, prosperous and the home of the Afghans under an Islamic system," Mujahid said at the press conference, in statements also reported by EFE news agency. 

After the US departure, the Taliban fired shots into the air to celebrate the victory and the seizure of power, and now the Kabul airport looks emptier, in contrast to the images of thousands of people filling the airfield to flee the country that could be seen in recent days.

The next formation of the new Afghan government is now expected, which, according to Zabihullah Mujahid, will be "inclusive". Although, from various sectors, it is expected that the Taliban will impose a radical Islamic government in which various sectors, such as women, could suffer severe restrictions. With respect to women, Taliban leaders have already acknowledged that certain rights will be respected, but within Islamic law. We will see what interpretation is given to Islamic norms in this case and whether it is as inflexible and terrible as it was in the previous period when the insurgents ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, precisely when the US operation against international jihadist terrorism began. 

Combatientes talibanes patrullan por una calle de Kabul el 31 de agosto de 2021
AFP/HOSHANG HASHIMI - Taliban fighters patrol a street in Kabul on 31 August 2021.
Evacuees in Spain

The first US flight with 350 evacuees from Afghanistan will leave this afternoon from the naval base in Rota (Cadiz) for Dulles airport, in the US state of Virginia.

According to Leana López, Political Affairs Attaché at the US Embassy in Spain, the people on this first flight will be distributed to various US cities.

Refugiados reciben instrucciones de un soldado de la Marina estadounidense mientras desembarcan de un avión de las fuerzas aéreas estadounidenses tras un vuelo de evacuación desde Kabul en la base naval de Rota, en el sur de España, el 31 de agosto de 2021
AFP/CRISTINA QUICLER - Refugees receive instructions from a US Navy soldier as they disembark from a US air force plane after an evacuation flight from Kabul at the Rota naval base in Rota, southern Spain, on August 31, 2021.

A new flight with Afghan evacuees is also scheduled to land this Wednesday from its base in the Middle East. Since last Friday, six flights with approximately 1,700 refugees from Afghanistan have arrived at the Rota military base, as reported in the newspaper El Mundo.