/ 30 August 2021

A nervous countdown in Kabul


After another “specific, credible” threat of an attack on Kabul airport saw US authorities warn its citizens to evacuate the area yesterday, reports this morning say a US drone strike has headed it off. As the US prepares to leave tomorrow, military officials say further threats from Islamic State are expected. It follows the suicide bombing near the airport on Thursday that resulted in about 170 deaths, including 13 US service personnel. Overnight, US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill met the families of the American victims at Dover Air Force base in Delaware after the remains arrived home from Afghanistan.

The US continues to evacuate its citizens and visa holders ahead of tomorrow’s handover of the airport to the Taliban. Since the scramble for safety started a fortnight ago, about 120,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul by the US (which has taken more than 90,000), the UK, several European nations, Turkey, Canada and New Zealand. As for Australia’s efforts, more than 4,100 people were airlifted by our people, including 3,200 Australians and Afghan nationals with visas to come here. Our troops wrapped things up and got the heck out of there on Friday.

It’s hard to cast too far into the future at this stage… Tomorrow marks the end of America’s 20-year involvement in Afghanistan. That leaves the nation under the control of the Taliban – the militant Islamists who America, Australia and other allies had sought to crush since 2001. But it’s not entirely the end, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday. “We have very significant leverage to work with over the weeks and months ahead to incentivise the Taliban to make good on its commitments,” he said. However, critics continue to warn that the Taliban will not make good on its promises to be less hardline than when they were last in charge. As for the people of Afghanistan, they are heading towards the nation’s economic collapse, experts say. We’ll be talking about this one for a while yet…

Image source: Getty

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