The Taliban have seized power in Afghanistan. From the presidential palace in the capital Kabul on Sunday, after a rapid advance, victory was proclaimed. At the same time, a few kilometers away at the local airport, an inhuman chaos arose, as many residents try to escape the danger. This has happened in the last few hours and in this world Afghans woke up this Monday.
As Taliban forces approach Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif falls in the North and Jalalabad falls in the East. These are the last major cities that the Afghan government had control over. President Ashraf Ghani loses control of the north in one fell swoop and sees the last big city in the east taken by the Taliban without a fight.
It is indicative of the rise of the terrorist movement, which in a few weeks tied more than twenty provincial capitals to itself. The equipment, for example, left by the US Army for the forces of the Afghan government is being taken into their hands.
On Sunday around 10: 00 (Dutch time)Kabul is completely surrounded. This is happening at a time when many Western countries are still evacuating their embassy staff and interpreters.
American president Joe Biden had said that there was no need for hasty evacuations, but helicopters had to fly back and forth for hours to get the thousands of personnel to safety.
In a moment of time the jihadists claim to have control over buildings of the Ministry of Defence and other government buildings. Within a few minutes, local observers report that he is in the office of the president Palace gunshots are heard.
More than an hour later, it’s over. Afghan acting Interior minister Abdul Sattar Mirzkwal and Taliban representatives come out with a statement: a peaceful surrender of the Afghan government is being negotiated at the presidential palace. Kabul-which according to the Americans should be a difficult fortress-falls within a few hours.
The Taliban once again stress that they will not make victims and they want to respect women’s rights. However, from areas that have been conquered before, stories come about women who have to wear burkas again and are not allowed to go outside alone.
President Ghani fled the country and took refuge in Tajikistan. From his hiding place, he later announces that “the Taliban have won” and that he has left Afghanistan to prevent bloodshed. Ghani said he feared “fighting in the streets of Kabul that could have led to a major humanitarian disaster”.
A spokesperson for the extremist organization reports in a response that Afghan government and military staff do not have to worry about retaliatory actions. The jihadists are not out for revenge, the spokesman said.
Nevertheless, the Dutch government wants to speed up the evacuation of betrothed. A military plane is sent to Kabul to pick up Embassy staff, interpreters and families. On Monday morning Ukraine reports to have had an unknown number of Dutch from Kabul.
Sunday evening: chaos at Kabul airport, US takes over aerial reconnaissance
At the airport in the capital, many people have gathered who hope that they can leave the country with a foreign plane. According to the Taliban, residents do not have to leave the country for fear: the terrorist movement is calling on Afghans to stay in the country.
The chances of residents fleeing the country are slim. Commercial air traffic is still allowed and the US has taken over air traffic control. Only military traffic is still welcome, with the result that numerous Afghans try to arrive on military (transport)aircraft.
In order to create order in the chaos, some of the Germans present American soldiers are forced to shoot in the air. “The pack was out of control, this was the only way to do something about the chaos,” one soldier said.
On Monday morning, commercial air traffic should be resumed, but this is not possible because of the chaos. Eyewitnesses even report that five people lost their lives as a result of the crash at the airport. Other districts of Kabul are just deserted.
Sixty countries have issued a joint statement asking the Taliban to keep the land and air borders open for the time being in order to give residents the opportunity to travel. The Netherlands also signed the declaration.
It’s not clear what the Taliban are going to do. It is believed that the terrorist movement wants to declare the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. A council must coordinate the peaceful transfer of power and prevent chaos in the country. On Monday, an Afghan negotiating team will travel to Qatar for talks with the Taliban. American representatives would also join.
About the author: Rick Culpepper
Rick Culpepper is of those journalists who dig the topic to the very bottom. He is often late with the delivery of the piece, but always does it perfectly. In his spare time, he collects data for one of the most high-profile investigations of corruption in the EU.