Symbol of the humiliation inflicted on the West by the victory of the Taliban after 20 years of occupation led by the United States in Afghanistan, Kabul airport once again experienced moments of tension on Wednesday (18).
NATO (Western Military Alliance) forces attempted to disperse a line of civilians without passports or visas, who were trying to enter Hamid Karzai International Airport. The result was a stampede that left at least 17 injured.
The episode is the latest in the ill-fated evacuation of Westerners from the capital of Afghanistan taken by Islamist extremists after a massive two-week military campaign on Sunday.
Over the weekend, the country faced an Afghan invasion with tickets for the last commercial flights to leave the city.
“It was chaos, no one knew who was giving the orders,” said Folha Mohammad Wadhat, a government official who fled to Istanbul (Turkey) on Sunday morning, as Taliban troops were already fighting in the suburbs. of Kabulite.
On Sunday and Monday, the situation worsened, with around 2,000 Afghans roaming the airport runway. In the aftermath of the fall of Kabul, scenes that horrified the world: dozens of civilians running alongside US military planes on the runway.
At least two of them died while clinging to the fuselage of a huge US C-17 freighter, crashing after it. The investigation indicates that at least one of them was crushed by the closing of the hatches of the landing gear.
The episode became an icon of the hasty exit from Afghanistan, anticipated by US President Joe Biden on August 31, 12 days before the deadline announced in April which had already given the password to the Taliban offensive. The group was overthrown in 2001 during the American invasion, which was a punishment for the shelter given to the perpetrators of September 11, the al-Qaeda network.
The problem is, despite warnings from US intelligence services of the Taliban’s rapid advance, the government insisted Kabul would last between 30 and 90 days.
It was last week, when the insurgents were already less than 100 km from the capital.
NATO, which took over the airport, said on Wednesday it had already succeeded in withdrawing 2,200 diplomats and embassy workers, but did not say how many Afghans – on Sunday alone 640 crowded in in the hold designed for 140 occasional passengers of a C-17 bound for Qatar.
At dawn on Wednesday, a government-chartered plane from the Lufthansa airline arrived in Frankfurt with evacuees. About 600 German soldiers are participating in the operation, as are the French – large A-400M freighters from both countries are operating in Kabul.
In a move to accommodate the Taliban, Western forces also denied reports that militants in the group beat frustrated civilians leaving the airport as they returned home.
The report also heard this description, officially denied during the first Taliban press conference on Tuesday (17), of two Afghans still in Kabul.
The flow of military flights appears to be normalized to carry out the evacuation. The United States has deployed 6,000 Marines to the mission, including approximately 3,500 at the airport, where the US Embassy is located, as well as representations from other Western countries. The British military are there too.
The Taliban, who are campaigning to tell the world they are now moderate, did not intervene decisively in the process – the only accusations of violence against those who tried to flee have been denied.
In any case, President Biden’s Saigon moment, in analogy with the evacuation of the South Vietnamese capital when the defeat of the Communists in the north was consumed in 1975, seems destined to continue to wreak political havoc on the Democrat.