Taliban announces amnesty and resumes evacuation at Kabul airport

Taliban announces amnesty and resumes evacuation at Kabul airport
Taliban fighters ride a pickup truck near the Koht-e Sangi market in western Kabul on Tuesday morning.  Statue of Hushang Hashemi / AFP
Taliban fighters ride a pickup truck near the Koht-e Sangi market in western Kabul on Tuesday morning.Beeld Hoshang Hashimi / AFP

The moderate language of the Taliban, which critics say should be handled with caution, has not yet convinced Kabul residents. Despite the Taliban’s call to return to work, many residents are staying home again on the third day of Taliban control. The atmosphere in the capital is also tense.

Hours after the UN Security Council called for a broad-based government with women’s participation, a Taliban spokesman said “women’s rights will be respected”. He added that this would be done “in accordance with Afghan standards and Islamic values.” He did not want to explain in detail what this would mean in practice.

Another Taliban official, Inamullah Semanghani, emphasized that the movement did not want “women to become victims”. “They should be integrated into the government structure according to Sharia law,” Semanghani said. However, there is little confidence among Afghans that Taliban leaders will actually allow women ministers to be appointed.

The United States warns the Taliban

Taliban leaders meet in Qatar to form a new government. Two key moderate politicians, including former President Hamid Karzai, met with a senior Taliban official in Kabul to direct the appointment of the government. There is also talk of including politicians from other parties in the government, which according to Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen would be “inclusive”.

After a day of chaos at the airport, transport planes from different countries took off again on Tuesday to evacuate embassy staff and former Afghan staff. Military aircraft from Germany, among other things, managed to land again. A Dutch transport plane had to cancel its landing in Kabul on Monday after air traffic was grounded when countless Afghans clung to an American plane.

Many countries are trying with all their might to evacuate as many civilians and Afghans as possible in the coming days. The US military commander in the area, General Frank McKenzie, warned the Taliban not to obstruct evacuations.

Biden’s criticism

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who sent three transport planes to Kabul, admitted that it would not be possible to remove all former Afghan employees, including the interpreters. “Our assistance is not going to reach everyone as it should,” Morrison said of the hundreds of Afghans Australia wants to evacuate. It is said that many former Afghan employees who helped several NATO countries are having great difficulty getting to the airport.

US President Biden’s speech, in which he addressed the American people on Monday about events in Afghanistan, did not silence criticism of his decision to withdraw. Former President Trump took the opportunity once again to blame Biden for the swift takeover of the Taliban. “The problem is not that we left Afghanistan, but the incredibly inefficient way in which it happened,” Trump said shortly after the speech.

Biden said in his speech that he still fully supports his decision to end the Afghanistan mission on August 31. “American forces cannot and should not fight and die in a war that the Afghan army does not want to fight,” Biden said. “We have given them every opportunity to decide their future. What we cannot give them is the will to fight for that future.

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