Free at last, free at last

September 1, 2021 - 10:47

TEHRAN — After 20 years of invasion, Kabul experienced its first night without Americans.

The U.S. troops stayed in Afghanistan for 19 years, 10 months and 25 days. On August 31, the last plane carrying U.S. troops left Kabul airport, ending two decades of misery.

"I'm here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens, third country nationals, and vulnerable Afghans," General Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing. "The last C-17 lifted off from Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 30th, this afternoon, at 3:29 p.m. East Coast time, and the last manned aircraft is now clearing the airspace above Afghanistan."

"There's a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure," McKenzie said. 

"We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out. But I think if we'd stayed another 10 days, we wouldn't have gotten everybody out," McKenzie added.

Biden also issued a statement saying that the past 17 days have seen the U.S. troops execute the “largest airlift in U.S. history, evacuating over 120,000 U.S. citizens, citizens of our allies, and Afghan allies of the United States.”

He added that they have done it with “unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve.”

Celebratory gunfire resounded across the Afghan capital on Tuesday as the Taliban took control of the airport following the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops, marking the end of a 20-year war that left the Islamist group stronger than it was in 2001.

Forced into a hasty and humiliating exit, Washington and its NATO allies carried out a massive but chaotic airlift over the past two weeks, but still left behind tens of thousands of Afghans who helped Western countries and might have qualified for evacuation. It is odd that Biden is bragging about the clownish evacuation. Many political pundits said that the evacuation had an uncanny resemblance to the Saigon evacuation. 

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yusuf, said, "The last U.S. soldier has left Kabul airport and our country gained complete independence," Al Jazeera TV reported on Monday.
A contingent of Americans, estimated by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken as under 200 and possibly closer to 100, wanted to leave but were unable to get on the last flights.

Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the U.S. withdrawal a “national disgrace” that was “the direct result of President Biden’s cowardice and incompetence.”

"The president made the morally indefensible decision to leave Americans behind. Dishonor was the president’s choice," he said in a statement.

Biden has said the United States long ago achieved the objectives it set in ousting the Taliban in 2001 for harboring al Qaeda militants who masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

The 20-year conflict took the lives of nearly 2,500 U.S. troops and an estimated 240,000 Afghans and cost some $2 trillion.

Only 38% of Americans approved of Biden's handling of the Afghan pullout, while 51% disapproved, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Monday. Three-quarters of respondents wanted U.S. forces to remain in the country until all American civilians could get out.

General McKenzie told the press briefing that the chief U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan, Ross Wilson, was on the last C-17 flight out, which left at one minute before midnight in Kabul.

"Every single U.S. service member is now out of Afghanistan. I can say that with 100% certainty," he said.

The strangest thing last night was Blinken’s remarks. Blinken has been bending over backwards these days to cover up for Biden’s joke of evacuation. He said on Monday night that the U.S. job in Afghanistan is not over. 

“A new chapter of America’s engagement with Afghanistan has begun. It’s one in which we will lead with our diplomacy. The military mission is over. A new diplomatic mission has begun,” Blinken said. He then went on to propose a 7-point plan, four of which primarily focused on getting the forces out safely and pleading to the Taliban to create a safe passage, but the sixth point, is the one essential to this article.

“Sixth, we will continue our humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. The conflict has taken a terrible toll on the Afghan people. Millions are internally displaced. Millions are facing hunger, even starvation. The Covid-19 pandemic has also hit Afghanistan hard. The United States will continue to support humanitarian aid to the Afghan people,” Blinken said without even mentioning who is responsible for all the aforementioned issues. 

What Blinken seems to be forgetting is that 20 years of invasion brought nothing but hunger, misery, pain, and homelessness to Afghanistan. This is the irony of the United States. They invade countries to bring democracy, law and order, and happiness, but they keep miscalculating. Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, and Iraq are clear examples of the damages the U.S. caused by invading them. The wreckage in Afghanistan and Iraq alone speaks volumes. 

Taliban 2.0

As for the Taliban, they have sought to present a more moderate face to the world and erase memories of the harsh fundamentalist rule they practiced in the 1990s. The desperation by many Afghans to flee the country showed clearly the fear inspired by the group.

Their seizure of Kabul on Aug. 15 after the Western-backed government collapsed without a fight and President Ashraf Ghani fled, completed a rapid campaign that saw them sweep up all the major cities in a week.

Now in full control of the country, the Taliban must revive a war-shattered economy without being able to count on the billions of dollars in foreign aid that flowed to the previous ruling elite and fed systematic corruption.

Banks remain closed, despite promises they would reopen, and the economic hardship facing those left behind has worsened dramatically.

The population outside the cities is facing what UN officials have called a catastrophic humanitarian situation worsened by a severe drought. The UN refugee agency says up to half a million Afghans could flee their homeland by year-end.

Mockery of U.S. evacuation around the world

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Tuesday that 20 years of U.S. occupation brought Afghanistan nothing but “death and destruction”.

“20 years of US occupation brought Afghanistan nothing but death & destruction. It's now a historic opportunity for Afghan leaders to put an end to their people's plight by ending violence & forming an inclusive government. #Iran stands with the brotherly nation of #Afghanistan,” Khatibzadeh tweeted on. 

Chinese state news agency Xinhua on August 22 took a jibe at the U.S. over Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan, saying that the U.S. left the country back to where it was 20 years ago.

Mocking the U.S., Xinhua, in a three-minute-long video shared on social media, said, "When you feel life is going nowhere, just think". It added the regime of Afghanistan "changes from Taliban to... Taliban".

"When you feel life is going nowhere, just think: with 4 U.S. presidents, 20 years, 2 trillion dollars, 2,300 soldiers' lives... the regime of Afghanistan changes from Taliban to... Taliban," Xinhua captioned the video on Twitter.

The United States has made a fool of itself with its catastrophic evacuation. A pure example of mismanagement. 

SA/PA

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