The World Reacts: Global Leaders Weigh In on Swift Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan
Gaby Arancibia . Sputnik International
22:21 GMT 16.08.2021
Despite past assurances made by the Biden administration that the Taliban would not take full control of Afghanistan, the militant group did just that over the weekend as reports detailed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had fled the country. Amid the worsening chaotic scenes, the US has maintained that it will indeed continue with its troop pullout.
From fears of what the Taliban's swift takeover of Afghanistan may mean domestically and internationally, many global leaders have begun to weigh in on the chaotic scenes by offering their analysis on potential implications.
The US, which initially announced under the Trump administration that it would be fully removing all Americans troops from the war-torn country, has so far made no indication that withdrawal procedures will be halted.
In fact, US President Joe Biden announced Sunday that an additional 1,000 soldiers would be joining the 4,000 troops that had been dispatched to the Afghan capital of Kabul to assist in the safe and secure exit of American embassy staffers.
Biden addressed the nation on Monday and acknowledged that while there was "never a good time to withdraw," it was "wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan's own armed forces would not."
The Taliban managed to successfully gain control of Afghanistan with little to no clashes with Afghan forces that the US had spent years training to prevent such an offensive. The takeover effectively came just over two weeks shy of the August 31 deadline that Biden had marked out to officially end the 20-year American footprint.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the crisis in Afghanistan during a speech in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 16, 2021.
However, as the not-so-smooth withdrawal efforts are showing thousands of Afghans flooding the Hamid Karzai International Airport, many, including world leaders, are growing increasingly concerned about what the future of the Taliban takeover may mean for the region and more broadly, internationally.
Largely echoing statements previously raised by UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged the US' withdrawal "accelerated things" in Afghanistan, but also noted that nations needed to work together in order to prevent the country from becoming a "breeding ground for terrorism."
"Our priority is to make sure we deliver on our obligations to UK nationals, to all those who have helped the British effort in Afghanistan over 20 years, and to get them out as fast as we can," Johnson stated on Sunday after reports surfaced of the militant group's control over Kabul. He added that nobody should be "bilaterally recognizing the Taliban" as the new administration.
Come Monday, Johnson announced that he would be stepping up evacuation efforts and holding a virtual meeting of G7 leaders in order to better address the deteriorating circumstances in Afghanistan. London had initially committed to sending 600 troops to help in evacuation efforts in Kabul, but numbers have since been increased to 900.
Johnson's office has stated that the British prime minister is working alongside French President Emmanual Macron in order to address the unraveling situation.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has also revealed that allies are considering the possibility of imposing sanctions and withholding aid to the country if the Taliban fails to uphold human rights or allows the nation to become a base for terror groups.
Over yonder in Australia, officials deployed some 250 troops to help in evacuating nationals who were living in Afghanistan. A release issued by the Australian Defense Force relayed that two C-17A Globemasters and a KC-30A had been ordered to the region amid ongoing assessments.
At the time, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the ABC's News Breakfast that the nation's mission in Afghanistan had not been in "vain," adding that history proves it's "always" been a "very challenging situation in Afghanistan."
"You look at the history, that is the story of Afghanistan. It is a, it is a tragic place, it is a tragic country that has borne such terrible hardships and catastrophes over a very long period of time," Morrison further added.
"And, sadly, that story continues."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has called for an early election in September, addressed the developments over the weekend and stated that he felt "heartbroken" over the scenes unfolding. He further revealed that Canadian diplomatic personnel were recalled.
"Canada formally condemns the escalating violence and we are heartbroken at the situation the Afghan people find themselves in today. This is especially so given the sacrifices of the Canadians who believed and continue to believe in the future of Afghanistan," Trudeau said in his Sunday address.
"We are committed to Afghanistan and the Afghan people."
Trudeau also indicated that Canada would be allowing the resettlement of up to 20,000 Afghan nationals through its special visa program, underscoring that the initiative remains a "top priority."
Weighing in on the latest, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters Monday that the "breathtaking speed" with which the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan proved "an extremely bitter development."
"Bitter, dramatic and terrifying," Merkel stressed before pointing out that the mission in Afghanistan had not been as successful as officials had initially hoped. "It is a terrible development for the millions of Afghans who want a more liberal society."
The chancellor further stated that an analysis of the missteps in Afghanistan needed to be noted in order to prevent similar issues from emerging in any future military engagements. She also went on to vow support of neighboring countries, such as Pakistan, when it comes to providing assistance for refugees fleeing the war-torn nation.
It was previously reported that Merkel laid partial blame for the Taliban takeover on the US withdrawal, noting at the time that the move was undertaken for "domestic political reasons."
Merkel's Monday remarks came as German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas admitted that all parties had "misjudged the situation," and that "neither we nor our partners and experts did foresee the speed with which the Afghan security forces withdrew and capitulated."
The official also indicated that of the 2,500 embassy staff who had been ordered to evacuate, 1,900 individuals had been dispatched back to Germany. Another 2,000 people composed of human rights activists and their families are expected to be placed on Germany's evacuation list.
On the more positive side of the spectrum, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has stated that "America's military defeat and its withdrawal must become an opportunity to restore life, security and durable peace in Afghanistan."
"Iran backs efforts to restore stability in Afghanistan and, as a neighbouring and brother nation, Iran invites all groups in Afghanistan to reach a national agreement," Raisi continued.
Outgoing Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addressed the developing situation and remarked via Twitter on Sunday that Iran wholeheartedly welcomed the decision by former Afghan President Hamid Karzai to establish a coalition. "We hope that it can lead to dialogue & a peaceful transition in Afghanistan. Iran stands ready to continue its peacemaking efforts," he wrote.
Iran, which shares a 600-mile border with Afghanistan, is home to hundreds of thousands of registered Afghan refugees and many others who are undocumented.
Echoing calls made by European leaders, the United Nations urged caution and called on the Taliban during a Monday meeting to "exercise utmost restraint" and "ensure" that human rights are upheld in the country.
"I call upon the Taliban and all parties to respect and protect international humanitarian law and the rights and freedoms of all persons," Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during the gathering. "I am particularly concerned by accounts of mounting human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan who fear a return to the darkest days. It is essential that the hard-won rights of Afghan women and girls are protected."
"The international community must unite to make sure that Afghanistan is never again used as a platform or safe haven for terrorist organizations," he added before name-checking the Security Council and stressing the usage of tools to "suppress the global terrorist threat in Afghanistan."
"The following days will be pivotal. The world is watching. We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan."
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