by WorldTribune Staff, August 15, 2021
The Taliban on Sunday took over Kabul, triggering a massive effort to airlift U.S. personnel which only last month Joe Biden vowed could never happen.
As the Taliban moved to seize Kabul, the U.S. Embassy sent out an alert Sunday night warning U.S. citizens in the capital to stay where they were, effectively putting a halt to America’s rushed efforts to get its citizens out of the country before the government collapsed.
“Do not come to the embassy or airport at this time,” the alert said.
Biden insisted last month there was no comparison between the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the chaotic exit from Vietnam at Saigon.
“Some Vietnamese veterans see echoes of their experience in this withdrawal in Afghanistan,” Biden was asked by a reporter on July 8. “Do you see any parallels between this withdrawal and what happened in Vietnam.”
“None whatsoever,” Biden said. “Zero. What you had is you had entire brigades breaking through the gates of our embassy, six, if I’m not mistaken. The Taliban is not the south — the North Vietnamese army. They’re not — they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy … of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”
Even as video emerging from Kabul showed the skies over the Afghan capital were filled with Chinooks and Black Hawks ferrying U.S. embassy staff to a secure location at the international airport, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected any parallels with the iconic image of helicopters evacuating personnel from the U.S. embassy in Saigon in April 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War.
“This is manifestly not Saigon,” Blinken told ABC’s This Week.
Also last month, both Biden and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, maintained that Afghanistan’s army was fully capable of defending the country against the Taliban’s offensive.
Asked on July 8 if a Taliban takeover was inevitable, Biden said: “No it is not. The Afghan troops have 300,000 well-equipped — as well-equipped as any army in the world — and an air force against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable.”
“I trust the capacity of the Afghan military, who is better trained, better equipped, and more competent in terms of conducting war,” Biden added.
“Afghan Forces Have Capacity to Fight, Defend Country, Milley says,” was the headline on a July 21 Pentagon press release.
“The Afghan Security Forces have the capacity to sufficiently fight and defend their country, and we will continue to support the Afghan Security Forces where necessary in accordance with the guidance from the president and the secretary of defense,” Milley told reporters at the time.
“You’ve got 34 provincial capitals in Afghanistan. None of them have been seized, as of today, by the Taliban, although the Taliban is putting pressure on the outskirts of probably about half of them.”
Less than a month later, the Taliban had taken half of those 34 provincial capitals.
Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the top foreign affairs Republican, described the events in Kabul as “an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions” and said Biden “is going to have blood on his hands”.
Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, McCaul said that the Biden administration “totally blew this one. They completely underestimated the strength of the Taliban and they didn’t listen to the intelligence community.”
McCaul also slammed Biden for claiming that the Afghan withdrawal bore no comparison with Vietnam, McCaul said: “We think it’s going to be worse than Saigon. When they raise the black flag of the Taliban over our United States embassy – think of that visual.”
Smoke could be seen near the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Kaubl as, reports say, diplomats destroyed sensitive documents. The smoke grew heavier over time in the area, home to other nation’s embassies as well.
As the Taliban was closing in, President Ashraf Ghani fled the Afghan capital as reports on the ground said that Afghan security forces offered no resistance.
The Taliban had initially said they would not enter Kabul while a transitional government is being formed, but reversed their stance, saying someone needed to maintain public order after Afghan police deserted their posts.
“To prevent chaos and looting, the Islamic Emirate has ordered the mujahedeen to get control of the abandoned areas,” a Taliban statement said.
Video posted to social media showed the Taliban seizing Black Hawk helicopters.
By early afternoon, the Taliban took over Kabul’s main Pul-e-Charkhi prison, freeing thousands of Taliban and Islamic State terrorists, videos on social media showed.
Meanwhile, China is reportedly prepared to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan.
According to U.S. and foreign intelligence sources cited by U.S. News & World Report, Chinese Communist Party leaders are preparing to formalize their relationship with the Taliban.
Last month, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said in an interview that “China is a friendly country and we welcome it for reconstruction and developing Afghanistan…if [the Chinese] have investments, of course we will ensure their safety.”
Beijing has already secured agreements from the Taliban not to give save haven to what China claims are Islamic extremists devoted to insurgency in western Xinjiang province.
— C4H10FO2P (@markito0171) August 14, 2021
Image: Afghan Taliban fighters trample an American flag for the cameras after seizing control of the Bagram Air Base area north of the Afghan capital Kabul. pic.twitter.com/vRGt8JtZBe
— Evan Kohlmann (@IntelTweet) August 15, 2021