|Fall of Kabul|
|Part of the 2021 Taliban offensive of the War in Afghanistan (2001–2021)|
|Commanders and leaders|
Abdul Ghani Baradar
In the 2021 fall of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan was captured by Taliban forces on 15 August of that year. It was the culmination of a military offensive that began in May 2021 against the Afghan government. The capture took place hours after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. Most of the provincial capitals of Afghanistan had fallen in succession in the midst of a US troop withdrawal under a February 2020 US–Taliban agreement which is projected to be completed by 31 August 2021.
US intelligence assessments originally estimated that Kabul would fall within months or weeks following withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, though the security situation rapidly deteriorated, leading US President Joe Biden to concede on 16 August that "this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated."
Negotiations are ongoing between a Taliban delegation and Afghan officials. A peaceful transition of power has been requested by the Taliban, and the government has declared its willingness to abide by this, preferring a transfer of power to a transitional government, while the Taliban seeks a direct assumption by them of the power of government. Some NATO forces remain, providing security for the evacuation of their countries' nationals and Afghans seeking to flee the country. Thousands of Americans, who in April had been urged by their government to leave the country, were also being evacuated.
The Taliban and allied militant groups began a widespread offensive on 1 May 2021, concurrent with the withdrawal of most US troops from Afghanistan. Following its rapid defeat across the country, the Afghan National Army was left in chaos, and only two units remained operational by mid-August: the 201st Corps and 111th Division, both based in Kabul. The capital city was left encircled after Taliban forces had captured Mihtarlam, Sharana, Gardez, Asadabad, and other cities as well as districts in the east. In the days preceding the fall, projections for the security situation of Kabul rapidly worsened. An early August US intelligence assessment found that Kabul could hold out for several months, but by five days before the Taliban reached Kabul, intelligence suggested the capital would last "30 to 90 days", and within two days, intelligence suggested the city would fall within the week.
On 15 August 2021, the Taliban command instructed its forces to halt their advance at the gates of Kabul, declaring that they would not seize the city by force, though their forces entered its outskirts. Locals reported that Taliban fighters were advancing into the urban areas regardless of their leaders' official declarations. After some clashes, the insurgents captured the Pul-e-Charkhi prison and released all inmates, reportedly including captured ISIL and Al-Qaeda militants. Taliban fighters raised their flag in several areas of the city and pressured some police to hand over all their weaponry. Bagram Airfield and the Parwan Detention Facility, which held 5,000 prisoners, also fell to the Taliban. At least 22 Afghan Air Force planes and 24 helicopters carrying 585 Afghan military personnel fled to Uzbekistan. One Afghan A-29 Super Tucano crashed after crossing the border, with Uzbek authorities issuing conflicting reports on the cause. Two Afghan military planes carrying over 100 soldiers also landed in the Tajikistan city of Bokhtar.
The Afghan Interior Ministry in a statement said that President Ashraf Ghani had decided to relinquish power and an interim government led by the Taliban would be formed. Afterward, fighting died down, although many civilians remained fearful and holed up in their homes. By late morning on 15 August, Taliban negotiators had arrived at the presidential palace to begin a transfer of power. Although negotiations were tense, the government declared its willingness to peacefully surrender Kabul to the rebels, and they urged civilians to remain calm. Al Arabiya reported that a transitional government would be formed under the leadership of former minister Ali Jalali, but this was later denied by the Taliban.
Later the same day, Afghan and Indian news reports claimed that Ghani had left Afghanistan alongside Vice President Amrullah Saleh; both reportedly flew to Tajikistan. Kabul's presidential palace, the Arg, was evacuated by helicopters. Meanwhile, Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived at Kabul Airport to prepare the takeover of the government. At 8:55 p.m. local time, the Taliban claimed that they had taken over the Arg, which had been vacated by President Ghani earlier that day. Allegedly, all other palace employees were ordered to leave after Ghani left. Reporters from Al Jazeera were later allowed into the Arg and interviewed Taliban militiamen. At approximately 9:12 p.m. local time, it was reported that the Taliban would soon declare the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from the Arg, returning to the official symbolism of the Taliban government of 1996 to 2001. At around 11:00 p.m. local time, Ghani posted on Facebook that he had fled in an attempt to avoid a bloody battle and that "the Taliban have won with the judgment of their swords and guns".
Since the Taliban had seized all border crossings, Kabul Airport remained the only secure route out of Afghanistan. After the fall of Herat on 12 August, the US and UK announced the deployment of 3,000 and 600 of their troops, respectively, to Kabul Airport in order to secure the airlifting of their nationals, embassy staff, and Afghan citizens who worked with coalition forces, out of the country. American officials said that all of their forces were still expected to leave Afghanistan by the end of August. A memorandum was sent to all embassy staff on 13 August to reduce "items with embassy or agency logos, American flags or items which could be misused in propaganda efforts". Small plumes of smoke could be seen near the embassy roof as diplomats were reported to be rapidly destroying classified documents and other sensitive materials. Among the documents destroyed were the passports of Afghan civilians who had applied for visas.
As the Taliban surrounded and began entering Kabul, US Army CH-47 Chinook, UH-60 Black Hawk and State Department Air Wing CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters were seen landing at the American embassy to carry out evacuations. A convoy of armored sport utility vehicles (SUVs) departed embassy grounds, and an attack helicopter was reportedly seen deploying flares in the area to defend against potential shoot-downs. Along with the embassy personnel, 5,000 US troops and some NATO troops remained in the city. The US government later authorized the deployment of 1,000 additional troops from the 82nd Airborne to the airport, bolstering troop presence in Kabul to 6,000 to facilitate the evacuations.
|A widely-shared video shows Afghans running alongside an airplane taking off at Kabul airport.|
Panic spread among the civilian population as the Taliban began seizing the capital, with many citizens rushing to their homes or to the airport, which remained under NATO control after the Afghan government dissolved. A chaotic situation developed as thousands of fleeing Afghan civilians rushed to Kabul Airport, with hundreds crowding the tarmac in an attempt to catch flights out of the city; some had climbed over boundary walls to enter the airstrip. US soldiers hovered helicopters low overhead as crowd control, deployed smoke grenades, and occasionally fired warning shots into the air to disperse people attempting to forcefully board aircraft. Video footage emerged showing hundreds of people running alongside a moving U.S .military C-17A transport plane taxiing on the runway; some people could be seen clinging onto the aircraft, just below the wing. Others were running alongside "waving and shouting". At least two people, in an apparent attempt to stowaway, were reportedly shown to "fall from the undercarriage immediately after takeoff". Another body was later found in the landing gear of the C-17. One of the victims is identified as Zaki Anwari, who had played for Afghanistan's national youth football team. Three bodies, including that of a woman, were also found on the ground outside near the passenger terminal building, but their cause of death was unclear, though some observers speculated they may have died during a stampede. Seven people were eventually confirmed to have died during the airport evacuation—including two armed men shot after approaching US Marines, according to the US Department of Defense. The Marines were not injured, and the men were not identified.
At approximately 8:30 p.m. local time, reports emerged that the US embassy was taking fire. The embassy issued a declaration instructing US citizens in the area to shelter in place. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the embassy would be relocated to the airport as the US military had taken over security and air traffic control there. Various other nations had announced plans to evacuate their embassies, including Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Denmark. The German government announced that it was sending A400M Atlas aircraft with a contingent of paratroopers for evacuations, adding it would not seek the required parliamentary approval for the operation until after the mission was complete. The Italian government was reported to have transferred its embassy staff as well as the families of 30 Afghan employees to Kabul airport under Carabinieri guard to prepare for evacuation. India was reported to have had C-17 transport planes prepared to evacuate Indian diplomatic staff, but had anticipated that it would take longer for the Taliban to capture Kabul. One group of Indian diplomats were escorted to the airport by the Taliban, negotiating the escort after having had their passage out of the Indian embassy blocked several times by the Taliban. Albania said it had accepted a US request to serve as a transit hub for evacuees.
A flight by Emirates Airlines to Kabul was diverted and later returned to Dubai, and United Arab Emirates airline Flydubai announced that it would suspend flights to Kabul on 16 August. By 16 August, most other airlines had also announced suspension of flights to Kabul. The Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority announced that it had released Kabul airspace to the military and warned that "any transit through Kabul airspace will be uncontrolled".
At least 22 Afghan Air Force planes and 24 helicopters carrying 585 Afghans have fled to Termez Airport in Uzbekistan. One Afghan Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano crashed after crossing the border, Uzbek authorities issued conflicting reports on the cause. Two Afghan military planes carrying over 100 soldiers also landed on the Tajikistan city of Bokhtar.
The Pentagon confirmed on 16 August that the head of US Central Command, General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., met Taliban leaders in Qatar to secure a deal. The Taliban reportedly agreed to allow American evacuation flights at Kabul Airport to proceed uninhibited. International airlifts of evacuees had resumed by 17 August following a temporary halt to clear the runway of civilians as the Pentagon confirmed the airport was open for all military flights and limited commercial flights. Pentagon officials added that evacuation efforts were expected to speed up and were scheduled to continue until 31 August.
A photograph of over 800 refugees packed into an American C-17 taking off from Kabul was widely shared on social media. French newspaper Le Monde stated that the photo had become "a symbol of the escape from the Taliban". Another video went viral on 17 August, where a man attempting to escape the country recorded himself and others clinging onto a C-17 military aircraft. A photograph of a US soldier clutching the furled US embassy flag during the evacuations emerged and was circulated by media outlets.
On 18 August, it was reported that an Afghan interpreter who had worked for the Australian military had been shot in the leg by the Taliban as he crossed a checkpoint leading to the airport. That same day, it was further reported that the first Australian evacuation flight had departed the airport with only 26 people on board, despite having capacity for over 120. The first German evacuation flight the day prior had also transported a low number of evacuees, taking off with only 7 on board.
On 19 August, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace stated that the evacuation flights could not take unaccompanied children after a number of videos posted to social media showed desperate families attempting to convince NATO soldiers to take their children to safety. The Guardian reported that the British government had informed the 125 Afghan guards who had been guarding the British embassy in Kabul that they would not be offered asylum in the UK because they were hired by the private security firm GardaWorld. Guards of the US embassy had already been evacuated. That evening, the Finnish government announced it was preparing to send troops to the airport to assist in the evacuations, with around 60 Finnish citizens still stuck in Kabul. French newspaper Libération obtained a classified United Nations report that found the Taliban had priority lists of individuals to arrest and were also targeting the families of people who had worked with the government and NATO.
On 21 August, The Indian Express reported that the Taliban had blocked 72 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus from boarding an Indian Air Force evacuation flight. Kim Sengupta of the The Independent reported that at least four women were crushed to death in a rush on a narrow road leading to the airport. By the afternoon, the US government was advising American citizens not to travel to the airport because of potential risks.
On 22 August, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation revealed that the Australian government had denied visas to over 100 Afghans who had worked as security guards for the Australian embassy. That evening, Lloyd Austin, United States Secretary of Defense, ordered the activation of the American Civil Reserve Air Fleet to aid in the evacuations, only the third time in history that the fleet had been activated. By the end of the day, at least 28 000 people had been officially evacuated from Kabul and 13 countries had agreed to temporarily host American refugees, but tens of thousands more foreign nationals and at-risk Afghans remained stuck in Kabul.
On 23 August, the British government stated that it would not continue evacuations after American forces withdrew from the airport; however, the government would be asking the Americans not to withdraw at the end of the month in an emergency G7 meeting. The Taliban indicated that they would be unwilling to extend the 31 August deadline for American withdrawal. Around 7 a.m. local time, one Afghan guard was killed and three wounded in a firefight between Afghan, American, and German troops and unidentified attackers. Ireland approved the deployment of a small special forces team from the Army Ranger Wing and Irish diplomats to Kabul Airport in order to evacuate Irish citizens. The Canadian government officially confirmed that Canadian special forces had launched operations outside of the airport to help evacuate people. President Biden said that so far the Taliban had kept their promises and had not taken any action against US forces controlling Kabul Airport.
On 24 August, Yevgheniy Yenin, the Ukrainian deputy minister for foreign affairs, claimed that an evacuation flight had been hijacked and flown to Iran. However, both the Iranian and Ukrainian governments denied that such an event had occurred.
Some locals, especially women, were fearful for the restoration of Taliban rule, and some reported feeling betrayed and abandoned by the Ghani government and NATO allies. The streets of Kabul were gridlocked with residents rushing towards the airport, with some abandoning their cars to make their way on foot through the traffic. Long queues were reported outside of the airport and foreign embassies, with residents waiting in the heat in the hopes of being able to secure visas or flights out of the country. Residents who had worked with the government and international organisations reported destroying their IDs to avoid being targeted by the Taliban, and many of those fleeing for the airport took no possessions with them. A minority of residents celebrated the Taliban advance. The day before the fall, Afghanistan Policy Lab director Timor Sharan told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that "shopping in the city today, I felt people were gripped by a sense of being stuck; stuck in an uncertain future and never able to dream, aspire, think, and believe anymore." Zarifa Ghafari, the former mayor of Maidan Shar who was working with the defence ministry in Kabul, told media that "There is no one to help me or my family. I’m just sitting with them and my husband. And they will come for people like me and kill me. I can’t leave my family. And anyway, where would I go?"
It was reported that sales of burqas (known as chadaree in Afghanistan) jumped in the days leading to the Taliban's arrival, with the price of one increasing from ؋200 to as much as ؋3,000 (approximately US$2.50 to $37.25), in fear that the Taliban would re-impose it as mandatory on women and would target women who refused. One Kabul woman told The Guardian that female students had been evacuated from their university dormitories before the Taliban could reach them and that university-educated women across the city were hiding their diplomas. Khalida Popal, former captain of the Afghanistan women's national football team, advised the women's national team players to burn their uniforms to avoid reprisals. Shops in the city were noted to have begun painting over and removing advertisements featuring women, and public posters featuring women were vandalized.
Residents reported a large increase in food prices. It was reported that a significant number of vendors in Kabul were attempting to liquidate their stocks in hopes of raising enough money to escape the country. Concerns have also been raised about the thousands of refugees who had fled Taliban advances elsewhere in the country and now found themselves stuck in Kabul.
On the evening of 15 August, the National Museum of Afghanistan posted a statement on Facebook stating "huge concern about safety of Museum’s Artifacts and goods for Museum Employees". World Health Organization mobile health teams in the city were placed on hold because of safety concerns, and the delivery of medical supplies via the airport was significantly impacted.
On 16 August, most of the city's streets had been deserted, save for those leading to the airport, with businesses shuttered and ANA security checkpoints unmanned. Taliban fighters, however, were sighted parading their flag and weapons and taking selfies by Kabul landmarks. Taliban soldiers were also sighted going door-to-door searching for Afghan government workers and human rights activists. In the days after the fall, some residents reported that the Taliban had re-imposed a ban on women leaving their homes without a male guardian and that multiple businesses in the city that had been run by women were shutting down. Local television stations began to censor foreign and entertainment broadcasts, while state-owned broadcasters stopped broadcasting almost all but Taliban statements and Islamic sermons. The Taliban also began removing women journalists from their positions.
The United States, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, India, and Sweden evacuated their embassies. China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey, and Qatar do not intend to shut down their embassies. Several governments, including Sweden, Germany, and Finland, announced that they would be suspending development aid to Afghanistan. Other countries, including those with no diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, have either started or hastened efforts to assist their citizens with leaving the country.
According to North Press, a Syrian news outlet, the morale of jihadist and extremist groups in regions such as Syria and Iraq, including Tahrir al-Sham, had risen dramatically following the fall of Kabul.[undue weight? ] Colin Clarke, research director at the Soufan Center stated that he was "expecting a heavy wave of propaganda [from jihadist groups], especially with the upcoming 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks". The Taliban takeover was also applauded by the Palestinian militant group Hamas and some far-right supporters in North America and Europe.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson blamed the United States for the Taliban's rapid takeover of Afghanistan. Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union who had overseen the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988, argued that "NATO and the United States should have admitted failure earlier" and that the NATO campaign in Afghanistan was "a failed enterprise from the start" which was founded on "the exaggeration of a threat and poorly defined geopolitical ideas." Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, who had survived a Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan assassination attempt in Pakistan in 2012, stated that she was in "complete shock" and was "deeply worried about women, minorities and human rights advocates." Afghan author Khaled Hosseini has also shared his concerns over the future of women's rights in Afghanistan, and expressed his hope that the Taliban would not return to the "violence and cruelty" of the 1990s. Human Rights Watch stated that "standing beside Afghan women in their struggle, and finding tools to pressure the Taliban and the political will to do so, is the least—the very least—the international community could do." Amnesty International stated that the situation was "a tragedy that should have been foreseen and averted" and called for governments to "take every necessary measure to ensure the safe passage out of Afghanistan for all those at risk of being targeted by the Taliban".
Multiple commentators and public figures described the fall of Kabul and of the Islamic republic as a significant disaster and a failure for NATO. German politician Armin Laschet, minister-president of North Rhine-Westphalia and successor to Angela Merkel as CDU/CSU leader, stated that it was "the biggest debacle that NATO has suffered since its creation and it's a change of era that we are confronted with". British parliamentary Foreign Affairs Select Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat stated that the collapse was "the biggest single policy disaster since Suez". Journalist Nick Turse argued that "without a true reevaluation this time around, the US risks falling into well-worn patterns that may, one day, make the military debacles in Southeast and Southwest Asia look terribly small".
Some, however, rejected claims of failure. Addressing the House of Commons on 18 August, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson argued that the UK had joined "a mission to extirpate al-Qaeda in that country and to do whatever we could to stabilise Afghanistan, in spite of all the difficulties and challenges we knew we would face and we succeeded in that core mission", additionally stating that "what is not true is to say the UK government was unprepared or did not foresee this".
The 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, described the execution of the withdrawal of troops as the greatest "humiliation" in the history of his country and stated that he would have first taken out the American civilians and diplomats, then their Afghan collaborators, all the advanced equipment of the Afghan National Army donated by the US army and in last place take out the military, all this with the condition that the Taliban complied with the Doha agreement. The former president is also against the interventionist policy of his country, describing it as a "horrible decision" to have intervened in the Middle East and that it has not improved the situation in the last 20 years.
US intelligence assessments originally concluded Kabul would fall within months or weeks following withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, though the security situation rapidly deteriorated, leading President Joe Biden to concede on August 16 that "this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated".
Several Afghan officials placed the blame for the collapse at the feet of the Ghani government. Afghan National Reconciliation Council chairman Abdullah Abdullah denounced Ghani's fleeing of the country, stating that "The former president of Afghanistan left Afghanistan, leaving the country in this difficult situation. God should hold him accountable." General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, former ANA chief of staff and Interim Minister of Defence, tweeted "They tied our hands from behind and sold the country. Curse Ghani and his gang." NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that "ultimately, the Afghan political leadership failed to stand up to the Taliban... This failure of the Afghan leadership led to the tragedy we are witnessing today."
The imminent collapse of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and their inability to withstand the Taliban offensive has also been the subject of focus. It has been argued that despite the US investing over $85 billion to train and equip Afghan security forces since 2001, the Afghan forces had proven to be woefully inept, inadequate and poorly-trained to counter the looming insurgency.
A report from the American Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released on 17 August found that the US had "struggled to develop and implement a coherent strategy" for the war and that "if the goal was to rebuild and leave a country that could sustain itself and pose little threat to US national security interests, the overall picture is bleak". The report also found that the US prioritised internal political interests instead of Afghan interests, that it had demonstrated ignorance of local context, and had wasted billions of dollars on unsustainable and bureaucratic projects.
David E. Sanger, a New York Times correspondent, analyzed the decision to leave Afghanistan by Joe Biden, and consequently the manner of the fall of Kabul, as the result of four basic assumptions, or miscalculations: that there was enough time before the Afghan government collapsed for the US to withdraw, that the Afghan forces had "the same drive" to win as the Taliban did, that there was "a well-planned system for evacuating the embassy" and Afghans who had helped the US and their families, and that if the Taliban made it to Kabul, that there would be a "bloody block-by-block civil war" taking place in its streets.
|A widely-shared image shows a helicopter landing in the US Embassy courtyard. The Army CH-47 Chinook evacuated diplomatic staff to Kabul airport as the city fell.|
|Many comparisons were drawn to a similar photo from the fall of Saigon In it, a Marine CH-46 Sea Knight landed on the embassy roof to evacuate the final Americans in South Vietnam.|
The events were compared by many commentators and the public to the Fall of Saigon at the end of Vietnam War in April 1975. A month before the Taliban arrived in Kabul, American president Joe Biden had rejected the comparison, stating that "the Taliban is not the North Vietnamese Army... There's going to be no circumstance for you to see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable."
Reporters argued that Biden's comments did not age well, as embassy staff burned documents and "helicopters were pictured hovering above the compound, shuttling diplomats to the airport" less than a month later. Rear Admiral Larry Chambers, who had given the order to push helicopters off the USS Midway during Operation Frequent Wind to make way for more evacuee aircraft from Saigon to land, stated that "what is happening now is worse than what happened in Vietnam", elaborating "[In Vietnam] we tried to get out as many people who worked with us as we could... In Afghanistan, we are abandoning the folks who supported us while we were there."
On the day the Taliban entered Kabul, American secretary of state Blinken rejected the comparison to Saigon, stating on an ABC's This Week interview that "this is manifestly not Saigon. We went into Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission in mind, and that was to deal with the people who attacked us on 9/11, and that mission has been successful."
Instead of Saigon, former American Defense Secretary Leon Panetta compared the fall of Kabul to the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba in 1961, saying that "President Kennedy took responsibility for what took place. I strongly recommend to President Biden that he take responsibility ... admit the mistakes that were made." Ibrahim al-Marashi of California State University, San Marcos compared it to the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive, in which Daesh overran large parts of Iraq and proclaimed a caliphate, arguing that the collapses were caused by the imposition of "rigid, hierarchical American military doctrine" on the Afghan and Iraqi militaries, that the Taliban and Daesh were more cohesive armed groups, and that the NATO-backed Afghan and Iraqi governments had "allowed networks of patronage and corruption to take root".
State-run media in China compared the situation in Afghanistan to the United States' relations with Taiwan. It questioned the former's commitment to defend the latter if China decides to take control of Taiwan, which it claims to be its province, by force.
Security Council of Russia secretary Nikolai Patrushev compared the situation to Ukraine–United States relations, stating that "a similar situation awaits supporters of the American choice in Ukraine". The collapse has led to Joe Biden receiving immense criticism, and has challenged Biden's strategic policy of the US pro-activeness in aiding it's allies.
In an article in The Conversation, William Maley, an Emeritus at the Australian National University, compared the fall of Kabul with the Suez Crisis of 1956, stating that Biden had "failed the people of Afghanistan and tarnished US credibility around the world", stating that the United States "increasingly appears a fading power internationally". According to Maley, the collapse of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is due to Biden's inexperience in the field of foreign policy, Western lack of understanding of Afghan society, and the legitimation that the Taliban received with the Doha agreement. He concluded by quoting former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who said in 1940 that “our promissory notes are now rubbish on the market”, stating that, as a result of its failures over Afghanistan, the Biden administration is rapidly heading in a similar direction.
On 17 August, the Taliban held their first official news conference in Kabul, with spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stating that the Taliban wished to "assure the international community, including the United States that nobody will be harmed in Afghanistan" and that "after consultations that are going to be completed very soon, we will be witnessing the formation of a strong Islamic and inclusive government." On 21 August, Taliban co-founder and political leader Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in Kabul for the first time in over a decade as the Taliban began internal negotiations on how to govern the country. In the evening of 18 August, the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it had welcomed Ghani into the UAE on humanitarian grounds. On 19 August, Ghani released a video denying reports he had carried a large sum of money with him as he fled and that he was negotiating a return to Afghanistan. Other government, military or anti-Taliban officials also fled to either India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
In the days following the fall, American government agencies began erasing public articles and images featuring Afghan civilians from their websites, out of fear that the Taliban regime might use those websites to identify and target civilians for reprisals. The American government also announced that it would be freezing $9.5 billion worth of assets belonging to Da Afghanistan Bank, the central Afghan bank, to prevent Taliban access to the funds. The International Monetary Fund also announced that it would be denying the Taliban access to special drawing rights.
Several social media companies, including Facebook and YouTube, announced that they would continue to ban Taliban content from their platforms. Facebook also put in place a feature allowing Afghans to lock their accounts to prevent the Taliban from noting down their information. The Taliban have decried such bans, arguing that it infringes on their right to free speech. A surge in creation of new, pro-Taliban accounts was reported on Twitter, one of the few social media companies that have not banned the group, in the days after the fall.
Several commentators anticipated a surge in refugees fleeing the Taliban after the fall of Kabul and the Islamic Republic, with several governments announcing plans in the days following the fall to take in a number of refugees. More than 300,000 Afghan civilians who worked for the US are at risk of Taliban retaliation. On 17 August, the British government announced that it would be establishing a resettlement scheme for up to 20,000 Afghan refugees, prioritising women, children, and minorities. On 19 August, the government of Finland announced it planned to double its refugee quota to take in more from Afghanistan. The Philippines also expressed openness to accept refugees from Afghanistan. European Parliament President David Sassoli called for EU countries to take in their fair share of refugees, stating that the EU "will have to show it cares about respecting ethics." The Spanish government created a temporary refugee camp in the air base of Torrejón de Ardoz, which was later visited by officials from the European Union, including president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and president of the European Council Charles Michel. Von der Leyen praised Sánchez government's initiative, stating that the actions of Spain represent "a good example of the European soul at its best". US President Joe Biden spoke with Sánchez to allow the use of the military bases of Rota and Morón to temporarily accommodate Afghan refugees, while praising "Spain's leadership in seeking international support for Afghan women and girls".
However, some governments began indicating a hostile attitude towards refugees. In a press conference, French president Emmanuel Macron stated that France needed to "anticipate and protect itself from a wave of migrants". The Austrian government announced that it would not suspend deportations to Afghanistan, unlike several other EU countries. Australian Minister of Defence Peter Dutton suggested in a TV interview that allowing Afghan civilians who had worked with the Australian government to claim asylum in Australia could pose a security risk and that "we don't know enough about those individuals". The government of Uzbekistan has warned that it will suppress harshly any attempts to illegally cross its border. It has however opened its airport in Tashkent for refugees, who will be immediately redirected to flights to Berlin as part of its agreement with Germany.
A number of countries refused to grant asylum to Afghans who had been working as embassy guards as many of those guards had been technically employed as contractors. On 19 August, 125 guards of the Embassy of the United Kingdom, Kabul were told by telephone they no longer had jobs and were ineligible for UK protection because they were employed through a contractor, GardaWorld, unlike guards at the US embassy who were evacuated. Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto stated that the Finnish embassy guards were "sub-contractors' sub-contractors" and could not be included on evacuation lists. The Australian government had initially announced the same for their embassy guards, but backtracked a day later.
The Government of Sebastián Piñera in Chile announced it would accept about ten refugee families. Meanwhile, the government of Colombia is planning to temporarily receive up to 4,000 Afghan nationals per request of the United States government.
With the fall of Kabul, former Northern Alliance members and other anti-Taliban forces based in Panjshir, led by Ahmad Massoud and former Vice President Amrullah Saleh, became the primary organized resistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Afghan embassy in Tajikistan replaced their presidential portrait of Ghani with one of Saleh, and submitted a request to Interpol to have arrest warrants issued for Ghani, along with his chief advisor Fazel Mahmood and National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib, on charges of having stolen from the Afghan treasury. Massoud has stated his desire to negotiate with the Taliban.
On 17 August, a small protest was held by several women in Kabul demanding equal rights for women, the first reported women's protest against the new regime. On 18 August, larger protests also attended by men emerged in three eastern Pashtun-dominated cities: Jalalabad, Khost, and Asadabad, with protestors waving the flag of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and taking down the Taliban flag. In Jalalabad, the Taliban opened fire, killing three and wounding over a dozen. On 19 August, demonstrations spread to various parts of Kabul, including one large protest near Kabul Airport where cars and people waved the flag of the republic, and another with over 200 people gathered near the presidential palace in Kabul before it was violently dispersed by the Taliban. Protests continued in Khost and Asadabad as well, with the Taliban using violence to disperse protests in both. In Asadabad, protests were reported as swelling to the hundreds.
Presented content of the Wikipedia article was extracted in 2021-08-26 based on https://en.wikipedia.org/?curid=68481047