Taliban seizure of Kabul sparks frenetic global diplomacy
With Pakistan-backed ultra-conservative Taliban seizing Kabul by force on August 15, there is frenetic diplomacy among major powers with US secretary of state Antony Blinken talking to his Chinese and Russian counterparts to find a way forward to stem the present chaos in Afghanistan. It is quite evident that China and Russia have cut a deal with the Taliban in exchange for recognition as the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan. The two powers apparently cut a deal with the help of Pakistan on the assurance that there will be no support for Uighur militants in Afghanistan and no intrusion or Taliban jihad into Central Asian republics bordering Afghanistan.
However, the Taliban victory will not be complete till such time Ahmad Shah Massoud's son, Ahmad Massoud, and formidable former Afghan VP Amrulleh Saleh are building resistance in Panjshir Valley. Panjshir Valley that links Afghanistan to Xinjiang via the Wakhan corridor has never been occupied by either the invading Soviets in the 1970s or the Taliban in the 1990s.
Blinken also spoke on Monday with counterparts in India, Pakistan, Russia, Britain, the European Union, Turkey and Nato about ensuring regional stability, the State Department said.
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told Blinken that the hasty pullout of American troops had a "serious negative impact", China's state broadcaster CCTV reported, adding that Wang pledged to work with Washington to promote stability.
As there was panic and confusion in Kabul, US President Joe Biden defended his country's decision to withdraw American forces after 20 years of war. Biden insisted he had to decide between asking US forces to fight endlessly in what he called Afghanistan's civil war or follow through on an agreement to depart negotiated by Republican former president Donald Trump.
"I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years I have learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces. That's why we're still there," Biden, who has been facing a barrage of criticism, said. He also blamed the Taliban's takeover on Afghan political leaders who fled the country and the Afghan army's unwillingness to fight.
After a day of chaos at Kabul airport, military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan restarted early on Tuesday after the runway at Kabul airport was cleared of thousands of people desperate to flee after the Taliban seized the capital. Ten Afghan civilians have been killed so far at the Kabul airport amid the ensuing chaos, but it was not clear whether they had been shot or crushed in a stampede. Meanwhile, several reports indicated that there is no aviation fuel left at the Airport.
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The Taliban are also holding internal consultations on formulating new governance set up in Afghanistan. Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen reiterated on Monday assured once again that the hardline Islamist group will provide a secure environment for foreign diplomats, aid workers and other civilians in Afghanistan. The Taliban also reassured the residents of Kabul of their intentions to maintain law and order.
Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met the Taliban's deputy Amir Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar to offer congratulations on the Taliban “victory” on behalf of the Palestinian “people”.
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Iran President Ebrahim Raisi said that his country will assist in restoring stability in Afghanistan and invited all groups to reach a national agreement. Raisi highlighted that “military defeat” and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan should become an opportunity to revive life, security, and lasting peace in the country.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said that Tehran is closely monitoring the developments in Afghanistan and is in contact with the diplomatic staff at its Kabul embassy and the consulate in Herat.