/ 17 August 2021

Serenity now for Afghanistan

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Since the Taliban entered Afghanistan’s capital Kabul and took control of the presidential palace (with time for some pics…) and the nation, thousands of Afghans and foreign nationals raced to the international airport creating terrible scenes. US forces have now taken control of the airport, and flights have stopped as they clear the runways. Sixty nations, including Oz, have called on the Taliban to allow the safe departure of those who want to leave. Amongst those who have fled is ousted President Ashraf Ghani – he took to Facebook yesterday to say that the Taliban have a “responsibility to protect the honour, prosperity and self-respect of our compatriots”. The Taliban’s deputy leader Mullah Baradar Akhund says that is what they will do. “We will give services to our nation, we give serenity to the whole nation, that we will go as far as possible for the betterment of their lives,” he said. Many question whether they will honour that commitment, particularly when it comes to women and girls.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR AUSTRALIA?
A plan has been hatched for our people to be airlifted out when “the situation allows”. There are up to 200 dual Aussie-Afghan nationals, journalists and some embassy staff to get out along with 200 Afghans who served with the Australian Defence Force. Former defence force chief Chris Barrie yesterday said the government should have had them out by now given the deteriorating situation. And amongst the defence community, there was sadness yesterday about what has transpired after the sacrifices made since 2001. “We are all wondering what it was all for, was there ever any strategy or purpose in our service and sacrifice. Sadly, I don’t know the answer and doubt I ever will,” said veteran David Savage.

HELP ME GET MY HEAD AROUND WHAT’S GONE DOWN…
You got it. Here are 3 things to get you going:

• The who, what and where. Because it’s good to get your bearings in an international crisis…

• How did the Taliban take control so quickly? Over the last 18 months, there were a series of ‘cease-fire’ deals that were actually cash for government forces to hand over their weapons. That’s been a big factor, experts say.

• And why did American troops leave? US President Joe Biden yesterday delivered his take on it: “One more year, or 5 more years, of US military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country,” he said. Biden will deliver a telly address early this morning on what’s gone down.

And of course, our recent Squiz Shortcut provides the backstory to this big news story…

Image source: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images

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