On the eve of the deadline for the withdrawal of US-led forces from Afghanistan, militants fired five rockets at Kabul airport, the nerve center of the Asian country’s civil and military evacuation process.
No one was injured in the action, which was intercepted by an anti-missile system installed by the Americans at the airport. The perpetrator of the attack is not clear, although suspicion is on IS-K (Islamic State Khorasan).
The terrorist group was responsible for the bombing that killed nearly 200 people on Thursday (26) and on Sunday the United States killed at least seven people when they hit a car bomb that was being transported to an airport with a drone.
The Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist group that regained power on the 15th, condemned both the terrorist attack and the US action, saying the use of unmanned planes in the country is illegal.
The evacuation is in its final hours. In total, the United States says 114,400 people have been evacuated from Kabul since the day before the arrival of Taliban forces in the capital, but the pace is slowing: Sunday (29), they were only 1,200.
From this Tuesday (31), the group will be the closest the country will have to a government. Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the Chinese network CGTN, as soon as the last American plane leaves, the Taliban will take possession of the airport, which is the only point in the capital that is not under its control.
It will end 20 years of America’s longest war – and another lost. As in Vietnam nearly half a century ago, the US withdrawal has been marred by serial fiascos and international humiliations.
There are differences of course, but Joe Biden’s government will now have to do a long job of reducing political damage because of its decision in April to honor the agreement signed between his predecessor, Donald Trump, and the United States. Taliban.
The acceleration of the withdrawal provided the password that the fundamentalists ousted from power by the same Americans in 2001, for protecting the al-Qaeda terrorists who carried out September 11, needed a final offensive.
In less than two weeks, Kabul fell. But, as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Monday (30), “this is only the beginning” of a major humanitarian crisis.
The agency estimates that by the end of the year 500,000 of the 37 million Afghans will have left the country, which already has 2.2 million refugees in camps in Pakistan and Iran.
Besides the renewed terrorist threat from IS-K, which like its Taliban rival had already attacked Kabul, one of the areas of concern is obviously the group itself which is once again consolidating power.
The Taliban have denied that they would repeat the obscurantist and violent regime of its first incarnation, 1996-2001, but the reality is much different.
“My uncles are policemen and two weeks ago they fled to Pakistan. The Taliban came to our house and asked about them. We said we didn’t know and were tortured to death.” , wrote an Afghan to a group of Brazilian activists. trying to help refugees.
Another, who communicates via audio, cried and asked, “Please don’t forget us.” The activists want the support of the Brazilian senators for the granting of visas to the refugees.
Another Afghan who is also in hiding, journalist Ahmed Ali, said over the weekend that he was seeking an exit from the country by land.
He, who has worked with Westerners, said his relatives in Kabul have been questioned because the Taliban have access to the identities, personal and biometric data of all their targets, since the takeover of the Interior Ministry.
As the drama unfolds, the United States continues to coordinate closely with the Taliban, which the White House sees as a lesser evil at the risk of its entire withdrawal operation collapsing – forcing a military intervention that is all that. than Biden ever did. with 13 soldiers killed on the farm, he didn’t want to.
Other countries operate at different speeds. China, as the frequent presence of Taliban spokespersons in its state networks shows, wants the most stable regime possible to ensure the security of its western border.
Over the years, the Taliban have instigated Islamic terrorist groups in Xinjiang province, the predominantly Muslim territory oppressed with an iron fist by Beijing – the United States there accuses the Communist dictatorship of genocide, which is understandably so. considered by the Chinese as a political advertisement. .
Russia, on the other hand, has maintained a regulatory distance, but with efforts to become a central player in the region’s politics. His envoy for Afghan affairs, Zamir Kabulov, told Russia-24 on Monday that the embassy in Kabul “is forging links” with the new owners of the government.
With this, he said, it is possible that further evacuation flights may be possible for eligible personnel remaining in the capital. Russia, after all, was not part of the Western mission in the country and is not bound by Biden’s deadlines. There are about 140 Russians and allies still on the ground.
At the same time, the Kremlin has resumed military exercises on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border, and announced that after the end of this month, more similar simulations will take place in another regional ally, Kyrgyzstan. .
Russia has military bases left over from when all that was the Soviet Union, a country that invaded and occupied Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, and its main concern is to keep its southeast flank stable and free from radical Islamic infiltrations.