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Desperation and chaos grips Afghanistan

The US has had to deploy around 7,000 troops to control the hysteria that has broken out at Kabul's international airport
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AP/SHEKIB RAHMI  -   US soldiers stand guard along a perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan

"Our mission in Afghanistan was never nation-building. It was never the creation of a unified, centralised democracy", with this blunt statement US President Joe Biden dismantled 20 years of lies in Afghanistan. Biden, during a televised speech and without staying to answer the many questions from the journalists who attended the meeting, reaffirmed his decision to withdraw all US troops from the Central Asian country and defended his position by stressing that Afghanistan is "not in the interest" of US national security.

"Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on the American homeland," Biden added. A goal the US president said they had already achieved. "We went into Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear objectives: to catch those who attacked us on September 11, 2001, and to make sure that al-Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again," Biden explained during his speech.

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AFP/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI - US President Joe Biden delivers a speech on the situation in Afghanistan in the East Room of the White House

Joe Biden's speech reaffirms the US isolationist trend initiated by former President Donald Trump and now continued by his predecessor. Although Biden promised and set himself up as Donald Trump's foreign policy antagonist when it came to the Middle East and Central Asia, the two administrations are not very discerning. Biden has continued to perpetrate the famous Abraham Accords, sponsored under the Trump administration, as well as the promise of the withdrawal of US troops from various countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

US President Joe Biden has made it very clear since the beginning of his term that his main foreign policy objective is to form an alliance in the West that can counter the influence of China and Russia. During Biden's speech last night he referred to his two main strategic competitors, stressing that "they (China and Russia) would like nothing better than for the United States to continue to channel billions of dollars in resources and attention to stabilising Afghanistan indefinitely".

Biden's determination about his decision goes further, absolving the US of any responsibility for the situation in Afghanistan and blaming the Afghan government and its political leaders. "When I received President Ghani and President Abdullah at the White House in June (...) we talked about how Afghanistan should prepare to fight its civil wars after the departure of the US military, to clean up the corruption in the government so that it could work for the Afghan people. They have done none of that," Biden said.

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REUTERS/BAZ RATNER - U.S. Army soldiers from 2nd Platoon, B of the 2-8th Field Artillery Battery, Afghanistan

"I am now the fourth American president to preside over a war in Afghanistan: two Democrats and two Republicans. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth president," the US president was blunt as he addressed the nation to explain the situation and the US position on the Afghan conflict. Last April, Joe Biden announced the total withdrawal of all US troops from the Central Asian country, and although the situation in Afghanistan has been worsening drastically, ending with the Taliban's seizure of the Afghan capital, Kabul, last Sunday, the US leader has never shown an ounce of doubt regarding his decision.

The US president's speech comes at a time of bewilderment over the bizarre scenes at Kabul airport. Countries around the world have had to bring forward evacuation plans for their nationals as the capital fell to the insurgents in a period of time that no nation or intelligence agency had predicted. The United States took control of Kabul's international airport on Sunday to repatriate both its diplomatic personnel and US citizens living in Afghanistan, and to ensure that other countries could carry out the same mission.

But the images coming from the airfield showed that the situation was far from being under "control". Thousands of Afghans were crowded on the runway preventing any kind of movement, some of them even clinging to the planes about to take off with the sole aim of getting out of the country. According to Reuters news agency, at least five people are reported to have died at Kabul airport as they tried to force their way onto the planes. The desperation of the Afghan population to leave a country ruled by the Taliban became more than evident yesterday.

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AP/SHEKIB RAHMANI - U.S. soldiers stand guard along a perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan

The United States has had to deploy around 7,000 soldiers to control the chaos and hysteria that has broken out at the airport, the only way out of the country, as the rest of the country is controlled by the fundamentalists. Countries such as France, Turkey and the UK have already repatriated their citizens. Spain announced on Sunday, after the fall of Kabul, that it would send two planes to evacuate its nationals resident in Afghanistan.

In a joint statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defence informed that "two A400M planes of the Armed Forces will leave Spain for Dubai to cover the first phase of repatriation of the embassy staff, the Spaniards who remain in that country, as well as all those Afghans and their families who have collaborated with our country for years". The Foreign Ministry confirmed that the first plane took off yesterday at around 23.25 local time from the Zaragoza Air Base bound for Dubai, while a second aircraft is scheduled to leave first thing this morning.

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PHOTO/REUTERS - Afghan women wait to receive free wheat donated by the Afghan government during a quarantine

The West thus disappears from Afghanistan after 20 years of occupation, leaving the Central Asian country in the hands of the Taliban, who have re-imposed their Islamic Emirate. The group that most concerns the international community is women, who are invisible under a regime that robs them of any kind of freedom or rights. During a special meeting of the United Nations (UN) Security Council to assess the situation in Afghanistan, Secretary-General António Guterres insisted on the need to "protect the hard-won rights of Afghan women and girls".

Afghanistan's ambassador to the UN, Ghulam Isaczai, conveyed to the Council the desperation and fear of the Afghan population. "Residents of Kabul report that the Taliban have already started house-to-house searches in some neighbourhoods of Kabul, registering names and looking for people on their target list," Isaczai said. "There are already reports of targeted killings and looting in the city. The return of the Emirate that ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist from 1996 to 2001 is back in the Central Asian country stronger than before, controlling a larger proportion of the territory than during its previous rule, and with more than likely strong allies including China, Iran and even Russia.