Afghan terror sparks global response

August 27, 2021 - 20:48

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called a meeting of the permanent members of the Security Council to discuss the chaotic situation in Afghanistan, diplomats have told media.

Guterres sent letters formally inviting the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China to meet on Monday.

According to one diplomat, Russia has not made its position in Afghanistan known to the other members, but all of the five are expected to participate in the session.

A spokesperson for Guterres confirmed the meeting, which will not include the current ten non-permanent members of the Security Council.

The last time the full Security Council met on Afghanistan was on August 16, a day after the Taliban swept to power. Monday's discussion comes as Britain and France work on a UN resolution on Afghanistan.

The diplomat says the resolution would require the agreement of all five permanent members, each of which holds veto powers, but a text has not yet been shared.

Speaking to reporters, Guterres ducked a question about what he hoped Monday's meeting would achieve. He stressed "there are normal meetings that take place in the context of the work of the UN"

He also condemned the "horrific terrorist attack" at Kabul airport. Two explosions killed at least 90 Afghans and injured some 100 others. The attacks also killed at least 13 U.S. troops, most of the marines, and left 18 others injured. The Daesh terrorist group has claimed responsibility. 

In a statement, the UN Chief said "this incident underscores the volatility of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan"

Terrorists are believed to have detonated explosives at the crowded gates of Kabul airport with at least two explosions on Thursday, causing a bloodbath among civilians and U.S. troops, and bringing a catastrophic halt to the airlift of tens of thousands of Afghans desperate to flee.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack, the group's News Agency said on its social media platforms.

A central command spokesman says the U.S. death toll is one of the deadliest for American troops during the entire 20-year war. The head of U.S. Central Command, General Frank McKenzie, says American military officials are on high alert for more possible attacks. The attack actually marks the deadliest day for the U.S. military in Afghanistan since August 2011, more than a decade ago. It was also the first U.S. military death since February 2020.

The death toll of Afghan civilians continues to rise, with many of those wounded reported to be in critical condition. Video images uploaded by Afghan journalists showed dozens of bodies of people killed in packed crowds outside the airport.

According to Al Jazeera, the Taliban say they were unable to provide "adequate" security around the airport due to a large number of people there. The airport is currently under the control of the American forces until the withdrawal deadline, while Taliban forces are currently guarding the broader vicinity leading to the airport.

The Taliban has also condemned the bombings and say the attacks happened in an area controlled by the U.S. military. A Taliban official says dozens of those killed had been Taliban members.

U.S. President, Joe Biden, says his country will continue to evacuate  Americans after the withdrawal deadline. The official withdrawal date for U.S. troops remains 31 August, but Biden says the mission will not stop then. He says if there are any Americans who are still in Afghanistan who wish to leave, "we will find them and we will get them out". 

In a public address, an angry Biden threatened to “hunt down [the attackers]” and make them “pay”.

Meanwhile, Senators Josh Hawley and Marsha Blackburn have joined a wave of other Republicans calling on President Biden to resign, a demand that that increased in the hours following the deadly attack. In a statement, Hawley’s office said Biden “has now overseen the deadliest day for U.S. troops in Afghanistan in over a decade, and the crisis grows worse by the hour.”

According to a high-ranking member of Parliament from the ruling British Conservative Party, the airport bombing is “what defeat looks like”.

Speaking to British media, Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, says “defeat is when you don't control any of the process anymore and if you are lucky you just about get out with your lives and a bit of your equipment and that's what we are doing at the moment… We don't have any control, we don't have any say. It's a defeat.”

He also criticized Western forces for their chaotic Afghan withdrawal led by a U.S. administration that had shifted from “America first to America alone”. Tugendhat also noted that the West now had no control over the future direction of Afghanistan.

In the aftermath of the terror attacked, the UK announced its evacuation mission will end Friday. 
Germany, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, and Hungry are among the countries that have finished their evacuation efforts.

Australia said its troops were out of Afghanistan before the airport attack and New Zealand's last flight left on Thursday. The Netherlands and France’s last flights are both expected to leave shortly. 

Meanwhile, Britain is under pressure after its embassy staff left behind documents identifying Afghan workers and job applicants at the country’s former embassy in Kabul.

A journalist with The Times newspaper found the papers with contact details of Afghans on a tour through the city’s abandoned diplomatic quarter while accompanied by a Taliban patrol.

Amid fears of Taliban reprisals for any locals who helped western interests in the country, the documents included the name and address of a senior embassy staff member, other staff members and their contact details, and the resumes and addresses of applicants for jobs as interpreters. Some applicants listed previous work for western countries.

The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office has acknowledged the apparent error but said staff had tried to destroy sensitive material before leaving the embassy.

“We have worked tirelessly to secure the safety of those who worked for us in Afghanistan and continue to do so,” a FCDO spokesperson said. “The drawdown of our Embassy was done at pace as the situation in Kabul deteriorated. Every effort was made to destroy sensitive material.”

Elsewhere, Iran has strongly denounced any terrorist move to target innocent Afghan people. Tehran expressed hope a broad-based government will soon be established so that relevant institutions will assume the responsibility of protecting civilians. 

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson questioned whether Washington knows the location of Daesh facilities and its leadership in Afghanistan. On social media, Maria Zakharova wrote “So, the U.S. knew where the Daesh leadership and facilities were?!”

The remarks were made after Biden pointed out he had been given orders to prepare strikes on Daesh “assets, leadership and terrorists”

Many other countries have condemned the terror attacks.

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