Blinken says US diplomats have left Kabul

WASHINGTON – US diplomats have left Afghanistan and the US embassy in Kabul will remain closed, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken sai...


WASHINGTON – US diplomats have left Afghanistan and the US embassy in Kabul will remain closed, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Monday after the military announced it had completed its withdrawal from the country.

The disintegration of diplomacy has been a startling turnaround in plans to stay and help Afghanistan move on from 20 years of war and work towards peace, however tenuous, with a government that would share power with the Taliban. Earlier this month, Mr. Blinken had committed that the United States would remain “deeply engaged” in Afghanistan long after the army left.

But with the Taliban firmly in control of Afghanistan, what was one of the largest U.S. diplomatic missions in the world for now will be drastically reduced, based in the Qatari capital, Doha, and largely focused on dealing with visas for refugees and other immigrants.

“Given the uncertain security environment and the political situation in Afghanistan, this was a prudent step to take,” Blinken said in a State Department speech.

He sought to describe the departure as a “new chapter in America’s engagement with Afghanistan.”

“This is the one we will lead in with our diplomacy,” Blinken said, praising US diplomats, troops and other personnel who had worked at the embassy, ​​which last month employed around 4,000 people. , including 1,400 Americans.

It remained uncertain whether US efforts to stabilize the Afghan government would continue – the main focus of years of hard work and negotiations with the leadership in Kabul that have been backed by billions of dollars in funding from US taxpayers.

Instead, Blinken said any engagement with the Taliban – a long-standing American foe who seized power when President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan on August 15 – “will be motivated by one thing: our vital national interests ”.

Exactly four weeks earlier, on August 2, Mr Blinken left little doubt that the Biden administration intended to keep the U.S. Embassy in Kabul open.

“Our partnership with the Afghan people will last long after the departure of our soldiers,” he added. he said then. “We will continue to engage intensely in diplomacy to advance negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban with the goal of a political solution, which we believe is the only path to lasting peace.”

As many as 200 U.S. citizens and tens of thousands of Afghans were left behind in a two-week military airlift that Blinken called one of the largest evacuation efforts in history the United States. He demanded that the The Taliban keep their word and allow them to leave safely once they have the exit documents in hand.

He also said the United States would closely monitor the Taliban’s efforts to curb terrorism in Afghanistan, as it has said, and continue to work with the international community to provide humanitarian aid to millions of Afghans who need food, medicine and health care. after decades of war and political instability.

More than 123,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul in recent weeks, including around 6,000 Americans.

New Hampshire Democrat Senator Jeanne Shaheen said it was “paramount” for the United States to remain engaged with Afghanistan, adding in a statement that she had long feared that a premature US military withdrawal would destroy 20 years of work to build a stable government. in Kabul.

“Our mission in Afghanistan is over,” said Ms. Shaheen, “but our commitment to protect the American people, safeguard the national security of the United States and maintain our global stability endures.”

It was a depressing coda for hundreds of American diplomats who had served in the United States Embassy since December 2001, when a handful of foreign service officers accompanied the United States Marines who took over the grounds of the embassy to Taliban control. The embassy building itself had been largely empty since 1989, when the Soviet army withdrew from Afghanistan after a 10-year war, and American diplomats were evacuated for protection.

The diplomatic mission’s size exploded in a so-called civilian surge that coincided with a surge in military troops that began in 2010. The embassy complex in Kabul subsequently expanded, with hundreds of millions of dollars in additional offices, employee apartments, fortified gates and explosion walls more than 15 hectares.

From Doha, the new American mission will be led by Ian J. McCary, a career diplomat with 26 years in the State Department who had served as the embassy’s deputy chef de mission since last year.

For years, US diplomats have held peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar, where the extremist group opened a political office years ago to build relationships with the wider international community. In addition, the US military is firmly established at Al Udeid Air Base outside of Doha, which now serves as a middle station for tens of thousands of Afghans who have been evacuated.

By settling in Doha, US diplomats will be able to keep a close eye on their two top priorities in Afghanistan: dealing with the refugees and trying to control the Taliban.

The two could prove to overwhelm a diplomatic system already strained by the need to revamp one of the most legendary American missions in a generation after being caught off guard.

Mr Blinken set a resolute tone on the subject of diplomatic retreat and reminding Americans of the cost of war.

“America’s work in Afghanistan continues,” he said, adding that the State Department was moving forward with plans to regroup.

America’s longest war, with its losses and the resources invested in it over the past 20 years, “requires thought,” Blinken said.

“We must learn the lessons and allow those lessons to shape the way we think about fundamental issues of national security and foreign policy,” he said. “We owe it to future diplomats, decision-makers, military leaders, the military. We owe it to the American people.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Blinken says US diplomats have left Kabul
Blinken says US diplomats have left Kabul
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