Taliban celebrate victory after US troops withdraw from Afghanistan

·7-min read

The United States on Monday completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending America’s longest war and closing a chapter in military history likely to be remembered for colossal failures, unfulfilled promises and a frantic final exit that cost the lives of more than 180 Afghans and 13 US service members, some barely older than the war.

Here is a breakdown of events that unfolded after US troops fully withdrew from Afghanistan:

12:50 Paris time (GMT + 2)

Taliban face crippled economy

Having won the war, the Taliban now face what could be a series of major crises as they fully take over the government.

The majority of the billions of dollars Afghanistan holds in foreign reserves is frozen in America, pressuring its now-depreciating Afghani currency. Banks have implemented withdrawal controls, fearing runs on their deposits in the uncertainty. And civil servants across the country say they haven't received their salary in months. FRANCE 24's Marios Sofos takes a closer look.

10:02 Paris time (GMT + 2)

Foreign ministers weigh in on future of Afghanistan

Afghanistan will form a government within days, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Tuesday, after weeks of uncertainty following the Taliban's conquest of the country.

"We expect that a consensus government will be formed in the coming days in Afghanistan," he told a news conference in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France 2 television that the Taliban are in talks with Qatar and Turkey about the management of Kabul airport, which should be secured as soon as possible so that people who want to leave Afghanistan can do so using commercial flights.

"The Security Council resolution about securing the airport must be implemented. There are talks under way with the Qataris and Turks about management of the airport. We must demand that access to the airport is safe," he said.

Finally, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany will wait for the Taliban to install a new government to see if the Islamists will honour their pledge to allow civilians to leave the country on flights from Kabul airport.

"The Taliban have promised, but in the coming days and weeks we will find out whether we can count on that," Maas said during a news conference in Islamabad with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

"The Taliban want to install a new government, and this will give us an indication whether our request that it be inclusive is met," he added.

9:06 Paris time (GMT + 2)

Kabul airport deserted hours after US troops finalise withdrawal

It has only been a few hours since the last US soldiers left Afghanistan this Tuesday and Kabul airport is already empty. Devoid of any airplanes and patrolled by the Taliban in armoured vehicles, these images from the scene show a stark contrast to the chaotic evacuation efforts that took place over the past few days.

FRANCE 24’s senior correspondent Cyril Payen, one of the rare foreign journalists still covering developments at Kabul airport, tells us more.

7:27 Paris time (GMT + 2)

US Embassy in Kabul suspends operations

The US Embassy in Kabul suspended operations on Tuesday, August 31, the embassy's website said.

"While the US government has withdrawn its personnel from Kabul, we will continue to assist US citizens and their families in Afghanistan from Doha, Qatar," the website said.

06:30 Paris time (GMT + 2)

Taliban welcome ‘good’ diplomatic relations with US, congratulate Afghans on ‘victory’

The Taliban's top spokesman congratulated Afghans on their victory on Tuesday, hours after the last US troops left the country following 20 years of military intervention.

"Congratulations to Afghanistan... This victory belongs to us all," Talibanspokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said from the runway of Kabul airport.

"We want to have good relations with the US and the world. We welcome good diplomatic relations with them all," he added, calling the American defeat a “lesson for other invaders”.

06:19 Paris time (GMT + 2)

Livestream shows the Taliban in control of Kabul airport

Taliban leaders have symbolically walked across the runway at Kabul's international airport after the US withdrawal, marking their victory.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a livestream posted by a militant as he walked through the facility: "The world should have learned their lesson and this is the enjoyable moment of victory.”

Taliban officials filmed the empty airfield on their mobile phones, surrounded by special forces members of the insurgents.

01:12 Paris time (GMT + 2)

Blinken: US suspended diplomatic operations in Kabul

The United States embarked Monday on a "new" chapter regarding Afghanistan and shifted its diplomatic operations to Qatar, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, as he expressed commitment to helping every American who wants to leave the war-weary nation.

"As of today, we've suspended our diplomatic presence in Kabul and transferred our operations to Doha, Qatar," Blinken said, adding that Congress would be notified.

America's top diplomat, speaking just hours after the final evacuation flights left Kabul, said a small number of US citizens, "under 200" but likely closer to just 100, remained in the country.

In a statement he made following the completion of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, he added that the US will continue 'relentless efforts' to help Americans, Afghans, others to leave Afghanistan if they choose to.

00:05 Paris time (GMT + 2)

Biden to speak about Afghanistan withdrawal on Tuesday

US President Joe Biden announced he will address the nation Tuesday on the final US exit from Afghanistan after 20 years of war against the Taliban.

"Tomorrow afternoon, I will address the American people on my decision not to extend our presence in Afghanistan beyond 8/31," the US president said in a statement shortly after the Pentagon announced that the final US military plane had flown out of Kabul.

Biden's statement praised the military for carrying out the evacuation of final US troops, diplomats, and nearly all Americans, as well as tens of thousands of Afghan allies who worked for or fought alongside international forces in the war.

"The past 17 days have seen our troops execute the largest airlift in US history, evacuating over 120,000 US citizens, citizens of our allies, and Afghan allies of the United States," Biden said.

23:45 Paris time (GMT + 2)

Taliban proclaim 'full independence,' celebrate after US withdrawal

The Taliban have proclaimed “full independence” for Afghanistan after the last US soldiers flew out following 20 years of war.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said early Tuesday that “American soldiers left the Kabul airport, and our nation got its full independence.”

The US confirmed its last forces withdrew ahead of a Tuesday deadline, ending America’s longest war and a frantic two-week evacuation effort. The Taliban seized most of the country in a matter of days earlier this month.

22:39 Paris time (GMT + 2)

US completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan

Hours ahead of President Joe Biden’s Tuesday deadline for shutting down a final airlift, and thus ending the U.S. war, Air Force transport planes carried a remaining contingent of troops from Kabul airport. Thousands of troops had spent a harrowing two weeks protecting a hurried and risky airlift of tens of thousands of Afghans, Americans and others seeking to escape a country once again ruled by Taliban militants.

In announcing the completion of the evacuation and war effort. Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said the last planes took off from Kabul airport at 3:29 p.m. Washington time, or one minute before midnight in Kabul.

The airport had become a U.S.-controlled island, a last stand in a 20-year war that claimed more than 2,400 American lives.

The closing hours of the evacuation were marked by extraordinary drama. American troops faced the daunting task of getting final evacuees onto planes while also getting themselves and some of their equipment out, even as they monitored repeated threats — and at least two actual attacks — by the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate. A suicide bombing on Aug. 26 killed 13 American service members and some 169 Afghans.

The final U.S. exit included the withdrawal of its diplomats, although the State Department has left open the possibility of resuming some level of diplomacy with the Taliban depending on how they conduct themselves in establishing a government and adhering to international pleas for the protection of human rights.

(FRANCE 24 with Reuters, AFP and AP)

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