The last US troops left Kabul on Monday, completing a military mission in Afghanistan that has been ongoing since 2001. The end of the operation poses many challenges to both Western states and the emerging Taliban government. Foreign media write in their analyzes about what the future of Afghanistan may look like, what place will Afghan women take in society and whether this country can become a “terrorist training ground”.
Monday night the last plane with US troops departed from Kabul International Airport. The US mission in Afghanistan began in October 2001, when the international invasion began in response to the attacks of September 11, ending with the overthrow of the first Taliban government, who had sheltered the authors of the attacks on the United States.
Americans have spent 20 years in Afghanistan, making the conflict in Afghanistan the United States’ longest war. The end of military engagement in Afghanistan presents numerous challenges to both Western states and the emerging Taliban government.
Evacuation from Kabul complete. What about the airport?
In recent weeks, the last place in Afghanistan controlled by Western forces was the international airport. Hamid Karzai in Kabul. Nearly six thousand American soldiers served and secured the airport during its evacuation. What will happen to the airport now as the last US troops have left Kabul?
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced on Tuesday that the Taliban are in talks with the authorities of Qatar and Turkey regarding the operation of the airport in Kabul. According to the head of Turkish diplomacy Mevlut Cavusoglu, the airport needs repairs before it can be reopened for civilian flights.
As part of the NATO mission, Turkish troops have been responsible for the security of the Kabul airport for the last six years. The Reuters agency stressed that its functioning is necessary not only to maintain air connections to and from Afghanistan, but also so that foreign humanitarian aid could reach the country.
Not all of them were evacuated. What about people remaining in Afghanistan?
One of the questions asked by the Reuters agency concerns the future of the Americans and the US Afghan associates who remained in Afghanistan. The United States has evacuated over 5,500 U.S. citizens since August 14, the time the evacuation flights began. According to the head of US diplomacy Antony Blinken on Monday, between 100 and 200 Americans remained in Afghanistan to express their will to leave the country. – Many of them live in Afghanistan for many years. Many are dual citizens with deep roots. It is a painful choice for many, said the US Secretary of State. He assured, however, that “America’s commitment” to them continued, including to those who would change their minds about staying in the country.
The American politician also admitted that “tens of thousands” of Afghan US associates and other vulnerable Afghans remained in the country. “There is no end date for our commitment to them,” Blinken said, adding that the US would put pressure on the Taliban to allow America’s Afghan allies to emigrate.
Although the Taliban has repeatedly declared that they do not intend to take revenge on those who have cooperated with foreign military and diplomacy over the years of the conflict, there are growing concerns among Western officials about possible reprisals. – The Taliban want international recognition. But for any recognition or support they will have to deserve, said Blinken. As he explained, he means, inter alia, enabling the free movement of people, meeting commitments in the fight against terrorism, refraining from retaliation and respecting human rights.
The Unclear Future of Afghan Women
The BBC website pointed out that after the US mission formally ends and the Taliban takes full control of Afghanistan, the future of Afghan women remains uncertain. During their first rule, the Taliban introduced Afghanistan a law based on a strict interpretation of Sharia. Provisions which provide, inter alia, the ban on paid work or education of women, the obligation to wear full-face burqas, or the ban on listening to music were brutally enforced. The Sunni Taliban also persecuted religious minorities, mainly Shi’ites.
After taking power in mid-August, one of the Taliban representatives, Suhail Shaheem, declared that the new government would respect the rights of women and minorities “in line with Afghan Islamic norms and values.” According to the Taliban’s announcement, women will be able to work and study, and they will not be forced to cover their entire face, they just need to wear hijabs that cover their hair. According to Al-Jazeera, there were also assurances that women would be able to work in the government created by the Taliban.
Meanwhile, the British daily “Independent”, citing a speech by interim minister for higher education, Baki Hakkani, said on Monday that Afghan women will be able to work and study at universities, but not in the same rooms as men. People in Afghanistan will continue their studies in accordance with Koranic law (Sharia) and will not (stay) in a mixed environment of men and women, Hakkani said when he spoke to the Afghan Grand National Assembly (Loja Jirga) on Sunday from the tribal elders representing the provinces of the country. Hakkani also announced that the curriculum will be changed to “create a rational and Islamic curriculum” that is consistent with “Islamic, national and historical values, but that it can also compete with other countries.”
Human rights defenders point out that girls and women will pay a high price for implementing such teaching principles because they will run out of female teachers and teachers, writes the Independent.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Monday which “reaffirms” the importance “of respecting human rights, including the rights of women, children and minorities, and” encourages “an inclusive political solution” with meaningful “participation by women. 13 out of 15 members of the UNSC voted for the resolution on Afghanistan. Russia and China abstained from votes.
“The diplomatic mission has started”
Foreign media also speculates on the future of the Taliban’s relationship with Western countries. A spokesman for militants Zabihullah Mujahid said on Tuesday that the government they are creating wants to maintain good relations with the United States and other countries.
However, Americans make the future of relations dependent on the actions taken by the Taliban. – A new chapter in the history of US engagement in Afghanistan has begun. Our military mission is over. The diplomatic mission has started, announced Antony Blinken. He informed that the US Embassy in Kabul would move to Al-Doha in Qatar and from there it would coordinate, inter alia, international talks with the Taliban to ensure they fulfill their promise to allow anyone who wishes to leave the country, including “those who have worked with the Americans.”
A few days ago, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also discussed the future of contacts with Afghanistan. As Downing Street reported, they agreed that international efforts are needed in the coming weeks to avert a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and that G7 leaders should develop a common approach on how to deal with the future Taliban government of Afghanistan. “The prime minister stressed that the recognition of the Taliban and relations with them must be conditional on allowing (by them – ed.) Safe passage for those who wish to leave the country, and on respect for human rights,” the issued statement said.
Meanwhile, Russian diplomat Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative for Afghanistan, announced on Monday that the Russian authorities are actively establishing contacts with the Taliban. – We are already establishing (contacts), our embassy is quite active in Kabul. We established such contacts a long time ago and we will continue it – said Kabulov on the Rossiya24 news television.
– Of course, like many, we are concerned about certain issues concerning the political and military situation in this country and the observance of fundamental human rights. However, all this should take into account the specificity, cultural and religious specificity of the Afghan nation and not try to impose anything based on your own cultural visions of democracy – said the diplomat.
Will Afghanistan become “a training ground for terrorists?
The BBC points out that one of the main concerns that have grown since the Taliban seizes power is that Afghanistan will become a “terrorist training ground” again. Also in this case, the Taliban reassure that they intend to abide by the agreement with the United States and will not allow any groups to use Afghan soil as a base from which attacks on the US or other allied states will be coordinated. They claim that their goal is to establish an “Islamic government” and do not want to pose a threat to any other country.
The British website, however, cites the opinions of analysts that, in their opinion, the ties between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are unbreakable, and the fighters of this terrorist organization are involved in training activities in Afghanistan. The BBC also notes that the Taliban is not a centralized movement. While some leaders may wish to maintain ties with the West, others with more radical views will oppose severing their ties with al-Qaeda.
According to the British portal, the so-called fighters pose a serious security challenge for the emerging Taliban government Islamic State Province of Khorasan. ISIS-K accuses Taliban leaders of rejecting jihad and fighting in the field to negotiate a truce in the “fancy hotels” of Qatar’s capital, Doha. However, also in this case, attention is drawn to the terrorists’ ties to some radical Taliban. The two organizations are to be linked by the figure of Khalil Hakkani, whom the US government declared a terrorist a decade ago, offering $ 5 million to help him capture him. Currently, under the Taliban rule, Hakkani is responsible for security in Kabul.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / STRINGER