THE Taliban took control of Afghanistan yesterday, with the collapsing NATO-backed government shrieking in its fear that they are entering the capital, Kabul, ‘from all sides’.
The NATO-installed President Ashraf Ghani scuttled out of Kabul for neighbouring Tajikistan.
Yesterday morning, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: ‘Taliban fighters are to be on standby on all entrances of Kabul until a peaceful and satisfactory transfer of power is agreed.’
Then, in the afternoon, the Taliban ordered its fighters to move in and take control of the capital city and uphold law and order.
The Taliban said that its rapid gains, which saw it take control of more than 20 Afghan cities in the course of barely a week, show that it is popularly accepted by the Afghan people.
The Taliban have opened many of the prisons and thousands of people are flooding out of them, many of them Taliban fighters.
A Taliban spokesman said that a Taliban government will respect the rights of women and allow them access to education and work.
Five thousand US troops and 1,000 UK troops have been sent into Afghanistan in recent days to try to get thousands of US and UK embassy and other personnel out.
The Russian foreign ministry said that Moscow is working with other countries to hold an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan.
‘We are working on this,’ Zamir Kabulov, a Russian foreign ministry official said yesterday, noting that Moscow does not plan to evacuate its embassy in Kabul, adding that the Taliban has offered Russia and other countries, which he did not name, security assurances for their missions in Afghanistan.
Tory MP and former Defence Minister Johnny Mercer condemned the US-UK military collapse, saying: ‘It’s very hard. I never thought I’d see the day either as a serviceman or as a member of the Conservative Party where we would essentially surrender to the Taliban. It’s humiliating to watch. Personally I find it shameful.
‘UK ministers and the prime minister will be very careful about underplaying the impacts this will have in Afghanistan but also on the service community and also on this country. I think they should be very careful before underplaying that.’
Former Tory Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: ‘This has all the makings of a strategic disaster. We are seeing the overthrow of a democratic government by military means.’
He went on: ‘The UK was part of the NATO mission. Part of that mission was to train up the Afghan forces. I think it will have come as a major surprise to everybody involved that given the training, support and logistics that were provided, that they have not either been able or willing to resist the Taliban advance and we’ve seen such a rapid collapse across the country.’
Fox added: ‘Why, given the quality of the training and the military supplies that were available to the Afghan forces, why they have just melted away is a major question.’
Tory MP and chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat said: ‘The battle for Afghanistan is now lost. It is an abject defeat. The British and the United States have been routed.
‘This is pretty stunning really. What we are now seeing is what we fought for 20 years to stop, which is a Taliban victory.’
Tugendhat described it as Britain’s biggest foreign policy disaster since the Suez crisis of 1956.
He also condemned the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, for not making any statement as the Taliban advanced across the country and said the UK has abandoned the Afghan people.
Tugendhat said: ‘We haven’t heard from the foreign secretary in about a week, despite this being the biggest single foreign policy disaster since Suez, so I don’t know what the Foreign Office is thinking.’
British PM Johnson chaired an emergency Cobra meeting yesterday afternoon and announced that Parliament is being recalled this Wednesday.
- The United States is removing all of its staff from the embassy in Kabul in the next 72 hours and will close the embassy.
The embassy’s staff will go to the Kabul airport to travel back to the United States.
Only a small number of the staff will stay at the Kabul airport and the American embassy in Afghanistan will be closed by Tuesday.
US diplomats were evacuated from the embassy by helicopter after the lightning advance by the Taliban.