By J.K. Schmid
Special to the AFRO
The Taliban has swept across Afghanistan and now sits in the presidential palace of Kabul as of Aug. 15.
The collapse of the former Afghanistan government comes in the immediate wake of U.S. troop withdrawals, in which a total withdrawal was scheduled for the end of August.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai has fled the country and has been granted asylum in Dubai. An Afghan government ambassador claimed former-President Ghani left the country with $169 in cash.
The White House reported that the Taliban have offered safe passage to the United States on behalf of civilian Afghan allies of the U.S.
The Taliban awaits recognition as the legitimate government of Afghanistan from the U.S. and its allies, but currently, the U.S. is negotiating directly with Taliban commanders and officials on the terms of US withdrawal. The Ghani government is a non-entity. The Taliban is again the effective, if not formal, government of Afghanistan.
So closes the US war in Afghanistan, the longest US war at 19 years and 10 months.
The Taliban presents itself as a more moderate political and military force than the one that was driven out of power when the U.S. invaded Oct. 7, 2001. Despite Taliban promises that the returned regime will not reimplement its harshest interpretation of Islamic Law, that it will protect women’s rights and that it will not harbor and foster international terrorism, panicked civilians are swarming U.S. C-17 transports as they take off from Hamid Karzai International Airport, clinging to the wings and landing gear of the aircraft.
During the Taliban sweep of the country, Afghan soldiers of the Ghani government reported going unpaid for months. The Taliban advance has been virtually, when not literally in some major cities, unopposed.
As the Taliban advanced, they released video of the palatial living standards of Afghan commander residences.
The future of the U.S.-Afghan/U.S.-Taliban relationship remains unclear at the time of this writing. The war may have lasted nearly 20 years, but the U.S. has been committed to funding, training, indoctrinating and arming forces in Afghanistan since 1979.
The White House reported 28 flights over 24 hours as of Aug. 23. The White House estimates over 10,000 people have been airlifted out of Afghanistan. White House officials credit the speed and volume of this mass evacuation to coordination with the new Taliban government.
While the retreat and drawdown are ongoing, U.S. military forces are ranging outside the Kabul airport confines. One operation pulled 16 Americans out from deeper in-country via helicopter, the White House said.
The Pentagon said that it is opening four U.S. military bases to Afghan refugees in New Jersey, Virginia, Texas and Wisconsin. 1,200 Afghans are already in the US, the Pentagon said, with room for 25,000.
The airlift is scheduled to complete Aug. 31. The U.S. has activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, civilian U.S. aircraft commandeered to support the Defense Department and Air Mobility Command. The aircraft will be flying evacuees to their next destination from waypoints outside Afghanistan airspace.
President Biden promised that no American would be left behind.
*This story was updated Aug. 23.
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