Kabul falls as president flees . . .
On Sunday evening, the Taliban took over Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, completing its swift takeover of the country. Afghanistan’s President, Ashraf Ghani, has fled and is now in Oman, having been denied landing in Tajikistan. The Taliban offensive began in Helmand province in the country’s south in May, soon after U.S. troops began their withdrawal, which was scheduled to be completed by September 11. Following Taliban victories against Afghan military forces through July, the first provincial capital fell on August 6, with more falling in ensuing days. The Taliban’s advance on Kabul proceeded with little resistance. The Taliban has vowed to return the country to a hardline Sharia law, although it has hinted there will be a limited public role for women under such a regime.
Immediate neighbours wary of takeover . . .
On Monday morning, Chinese officials met with the Taliban and accepted its leadership of the embattled country, hoping it will re-establish stability in the country. Pakistan’s Minister of Information said that recognizing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan would be a “regional decision” and would be undertaken only after consulting with regional and international powers. Prime Minister Imran Khan indicated that Pakistan is committed to supporting an inclusive government in Afghanistan. India, meanwhile, has completed the evacuation of its diplomats from Afghanistan and has indicated it will issue single visit e-visas to fleeing Afghans, with priority going to Hindus and Sikhs.
Mass exodus . . .
Fear has gripped Afghanistan as airports have closed and reports surface of people attempting to leave the country being fired upon by the Taliban in some areas. In response, countries have stepped up to offer refuge to Afghans. Canada has vowed to resettle 20,000 Afghans, including women leaders, human rights workers, and journalists. The U.S. has committed to accepting 30,000 refugees, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany may provide refuge for up to 10,000, including activists and local staff. French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to help “those who are most at risk,” the U.K. said it is actively working on a resettlement scheme for vulnerable Afghans, and Uganda has offered to accept 2,000 refugees. The situation on the ground remains tense and fluid.