The US military therefore completely withdrawn from Afghanistan during the night from Monday to Tuesday, leaving the country in the hands of the Taliban, their 20-year-old enemies, at the end of the longest war waged by the United States. Accompanying this historic moment, painful for President Joe Biden, victorious gunfire erupted in Kabul, the Taliban celebrating their takeover of the airport in the Afghan capital. “We have made history,” said Anas Haqqani, a leader of the fundamentalist movement, once the last American forces left after two weeks of hasty, even chaotic evacuation operations. “The last C-17 (military transport) plane took off from Kabul airport on August 30” at 19:29 GMT (9:29 p.m. in France), just before midnight in Kabul, General Kenneth told Washington. McKenzie, who heads the US central command on which Afghanistan depends.
Critics of the American Republican opposition
The US military withdrawal was therefore completed 24 hours before the end of the day on August 31, the deadline set by President Biden. The president will address this Tuesday to his fellow citizens, many of whom are wondering what these two decades of engagement in Afghanistan have ultimately served. On Monday, the Pentagon admitted that it was unable to get as many people out of Afghanistan as it wanted.
Strong criticism from the Republican opposition followed the announcement of this failure. The president abandoned “Americans at the mercy of terrorists,” Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy said. Washington will continue to “help” all Americans who want to leave Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured Monday evening. The United States will “work” with the Taliban if it keeps its commitments, he added. “The Taliban want international legitimacy and support. Our message is that legitimacy and support must be earned, ”he said.
123,000 civilians evacuated in 18 days
Between 100 and 200 Americans are still in Afghanistan, according to Antony Blinken, who announced a transfer to Doha, Qatar, of diplomatic and consular activities from the United States embassy in Kabul. The US military also said it destroyed aircraft, armored vehicles and an anti-missile defense system before leaving Kabul airport.
Since August 14, over a period of 18 days, the planes of the United States and its allies have evacuated by a gigantic airlift more than 123,000 civilians from the Hamid Karzai International Airport, according to the Pentagon. These risky operations were mourned on August 26 by a suicide bombing, claimed by the Islamic State in Khorasan (EI-K), which killed more than a hundred, including 13 US soldiers.
The urgency in which the American withdrawal took place – as well as the repatriation of diplomats and nationals of many countries – is explained by the fact that the Taliban caught the West by surprise in a lightning offensive to regain possession of it. Afghanistan. The central government and the regular army of this decades-unstable country collapsed in ten days. Kabul fell on August 15. Washington admitted that it did not anticipate this debacle.
October 2001 – August 2021
US forces entered Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 to oust the Taliban from power, due to their refusal to hand over Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the September 11 attacks. Even if the objective of suppressing bin Laden was achieved on May 2, 2011, they remained, in particular to form an Afghan army finally routed.
In mid-August, the victory of the Taliban and the flight from the country of President Ashraf Ghani had caused panic in Kabul. Thousands of Afghans had invaded the tarmac at Kabul airport to flee, some madly clinging to military planes taking off, only to fall into the void a few minutes later. The return of the Islamists to power forced the West to also evacuate the Afghans likely to suffer reprisals, in particular for having worked for the foreign forces.
The American army, who said he foiled a car bomb on Sunday and countered Monday rocket fire at Kabul airport, remained very discreet on the end of the withdrawal, for security reasons. The last American aircraft took off in the middle of the night, far from the cameras. As a reminder, President Biden had to return thousands of soldiers to the Afghan capital for these evacuations. He continued to justify his decision to withdraw American troops by his refusal to prolong this war any longer.
2,500 dead and a bill of 2,313 billion dollars in 20 years
The United States deplores some 2,500 deaths and a bill of 2,313 billion dollars in 20 years, according to a study by Brown University. They come out of this war with an image even more tarnished by their inability to predict the speed of the Taliban victory and by their management of evacuations.
During their previous coming to power between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban imposed an ultra-rigorous version of Islamic law. Women could neither work nor study, thieves and murderers incurred terrible punishments. The Islamists have endeavored since their return to power to display an image of openness and moderation which nevertheless leaves many countries and observers skeptical.