Correspondent in New York
“No way are you going to see people blown off rooftops.” Said it last month Joe Biden about the possible evacuation of Accept, in a reference to a heroic but also dishonorable episode in US history: the massive and urgent departure of thousands of Americans and Vietnamese allies in Saigon –Now Ho Chi Minh City– in 1975, as the curtain fell on the Vietnam War.
Hundreds of helicopter flights then took evacuees off the roofs of the US Embassy and nearby buildings, with communist soldiers from northern Vietnam on the prowl, in a picture that symbolized American failure.
The situation in Afghanistan has changed dramatically since the US president spoke those words. Given the accelerated advance of the taliban Across the country, with almost every region around Kabul dominating, the capital appears to soon cease to be a safe place.
This is how the Biden Administration’s decision to send a contingent of 3,000 soldiers to protect an evacuation of its diplomatic and consular personnel is understood. The same decision was taken by the United Kingdom, which will send 600 soldiers to Afghanistan for the repatriation of the nearly 4,000 British who are in the country. Also Canada, which will deploy a contingent of special forces to evacuate its diplomatic personnel and nationals.
The worsening situation has led other Western countries to pack urgently in Afghanistan. Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod announced the closure of his country’s Embassy and the evacuation of all staff. His Norwegian counterpart, Ine Eriksen, reported a similar decision. The Government of the Netherlands assured that its intention is to keep the diplomatic headquarters open for as long as possible, but that it could be unsustainable if Kabul is besieged by the Taliban. From Germany, its Foreign Minister, Heiko Mass, announced that consular personnel will be reduced to the “absolute minimum” and that plans to repatriate its citizens that were scheduled for the end of August have been advanced.
France, as the US and other Western countries have also done, has repeated calls on its citizens to leave Afghanistan “as soon as possible.”
NATO and the UN stay
The OTAN held an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the rapid advance of the Taliban and the weakness of the Kabul government forces, which the military alliance supports. Your general secretary, Jen StoltenberHe assured after the meeting that NATO will keep its civilian personnel in the Afghan capital and that “it will adapt it when necessary.” “Our goal remains to support the Government of Afghanistan and its security forces as much as possible,” he added.
United Nations It will also keep its staff in the country for the time being, made up of about 3,000 Afghans and 300 international aid workers. The UN spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, assured that the situation is evaluated “hour by hour” and that at the moment there is no evacuation underway.
The sense of urgency is greatest in the US, which has a much larger diplomatic machine in Kabul and is more involved in the country, having led a war against the Taliban that is about to turn two decades old. This Friday a directive to which the public radio station NPR had access outlined the emergency plans for the abandonment of the Embassy. While the military contingent that will ensure their evacuation arrives, instructions are given to diplomats on destruction of documents, computers and mobile phones. The US has demanded that the Taliban not attack its embassy in a hypothetical – but increasingly closer – entry into Kabul.
The American stampede in Afghanistan is a problem for Biden. The departure of troops, which the president inherited from Donald Trump and he has defended, it was a popular decision in the electorate, with more than 60% of the citizens in favor. But not in this way, with the feeling that the Americans are putting their feet in dust before a horde of militiamen with beards, turbans and AK-47s. Above all, after the longest conflict in the country’s history and at great human and economic cost.