tirsdag 31. august 2021

After 20 years, last US flight departs Kabul, leaving Afghanistan to its fate

America’s longest war came to an end just before midnight local time in Afghanistan, when the last evacuation flight flew out of Kabul airport. A C-17 military transport plane took off carrying the US commander who oversaw the evacuation operation, Maj Gen Christopher Donahue of the 82nd Airborne Division, and the acting US ambassador, Ross Wilson, who were the last two Americans to step off the tarmac in Kabul, minutes before the 31 August deadline.

It brought to an end a US presence that lasted nearly 20 years, beginning just a few weeks after the September 11 attacks. The US gave up its last toehold in Kabul to the guerrilla group it ousted with initial ease in 2001, marking a defeat on the scale of Vietnam. There was no fanfare or ceremony, and no handing over of flags to Kabul’s new masters. All remaining armoured vehicles and other military equipment items were destroyed or rendered useless and the Taliban were notified of the last flight.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said later “a new chapter has begun”, with the military operation over and a diplomatic mission just starting. US diplomatic operations have now been moved from Kabul to Qatar, he said.