The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has ended - after midnight local time (a day earlier than expected), the last American military left the Kabul airport. It was Major General Chris Donahue, who was the last to board the C-17. US Ambassador Ross Wilson also departed from Afghanistan on this flight.
The Pentagon announced the completion of a twenty-year mission, which Joe Biden called "the longest war." It began when the United States brought troops into Afghanistan shortly after September 11, 2001.
Taliban fighters held a loud celebration with fireworks to mark the withdrawal.
How Americans left Afghanistan
Before the flight, the American military disabled some of the equipment, leaving the militants with a defective missile defense system, artillery, mortars, broke 73 helicopters, about 70 armored vehicles with enhanced mine protection, and 27 army Humvee off-road vehicles.
"These helicopters will no longer fly, no one will be able to control them. These vehicles will no longer be used by anyone," said the head of Central Command, Kenneth Mackenzie.
The United States has suspended its diplomatic presence in Kabul, moving operations to the Qatari capital of Doha, but will continue to help its citizens wishing to leave Afghanistan.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said: "A new chapter has begun. The military mission is over. A new diplomatic mission has begun."
According to Blinken, further US interaction with the Taliban will be dictated by American national interests. The Taliban will have to earn its legitimacy, and the world community will judge this by how the regime fulfills its obligations to ensure the free movement of civilians in and out of the country, and protect the rights of all Afghans, including women.
Afghans uncertain about the future, Taliban celebrate
The airport, after the departure of the Americans, was completely occupied by the Taliban. Some of the militants wore abandoned US Army uniforms.
The Taliban began celebrating and firing machine guns into the air, and there were fireworks in the city as well. The Taliban are confident that the United States has lost the war. This is what the moment when the Americans left Kabul looked like:
One of the leaders of the Taliban, Anas Haqqani, said that "the people are happy" that the militants "brought peace" to Afghanistan. He said there would be some problems at first with a regime change. Haqqani also said that "certain elements do not want peace in Afghanistan, they want the continuation of the occupation."
“You have witnessed that we have managed to establish peace. People are happy,” Haqqani said.
Pakistani Foreign Minister said at a press conference today that "a consensus government will be formed" in Afghanistan in the coming days. The Taliban have previously said they are negotiating with "all factions" to come to an agreement on a future government.
The moment @bbclysedoucet and her crew Robbie Wright witnessed the reaction in Kabul as the news broke that America was out of #Afghanishtan “listen, listen.. i don’t think you need to look at the news wires, just listen to what is happening in the skies above Kabul” @BBCWorld pic.twitter.com/13lO3Q27MK— Tony Brown (@tonyprod77) August 31, 2021
Afghans, awakened in a country without international troops, are anxious and uncertain about the future, the BBC reports.
"The Taliban have not yet announced a new government, have not yet announced a new system of government. My sources tell me that it is quite possible that they will announce the creation of an Islamic Emirate, as it was in the 1990s," the BBC correspondent reports.
There is not enough cash, huge crowds gather at the ATMs. People stand for hours to withdraw a small amount of their savings. A significant number of Afghans, despite the fact that evacuation flights have ended, are still trying to leave.
With the departure of the Americans, there has been a troubling and uncertain period for women, children and human rights defenders under the Taliban. There is widespread concern about what a tough government will look like and how it will operate under Islamic law. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen says the group will respect the rights of women and minorities "in accordance with Afghan norms and Islamic values."
Militants have announced amnesty throughout Afghanistan and said they want women to join his government. But there are concerns about women's freedom to work, dress as they see fit, or even leave the house.
Another concern is that the country will once again become a training ground for terrorism. Taliban officials insist that they will fully adhere to the agreement with the United States and will not allow any group to use Afghan soil as a base for attacks on the United States and its allies. They say they are only aiming at creating an "Islamic government" and will not pose a threat. But many analysts say the Taliban and al-Qaeda are inseparable. How strong al-Qaeda is and whether it can now rebuild its global network is also unclear. In addition, there is a regional branch of the Islamic State group, which the Taliban oppose.
Ukrainians and other foreigners remain in Afghanistan
Now there is silence over the airport in Kabul for the first time in a long time. In 17 days, aircraft from the United States and its allies evacuated more than 123,000 civilians (7,500 civilians per day). There are still 100-200 Americans left in Afghanistan.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said there are still hundreds of British citizens in Afghanistan.
Ukrainians will be evacuated from Afghanistan after August 31, said the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Oleh Nikolenko. Over the past few days, the Ukrainian diplomatic departments have received a new wave of requests for evacuation from the country. The return routes of our citizens can be adjusted depending on the development of the situation. Now they are working on different exit routes: both air and ground. In recent days, Ukraine has organized six flights from Kabul and evacuated 650 people.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Afghanistan and demanded that the Taliban ensure free travel for Afghans and respect for human rights in Afghanistan, especially the rights of women, children, and minorities. For the resolution, developed by France, UK, and the United States, 13 members of the Security Council voted. Russia and China abstained.