Monday, May 16, 2022

In a final blow of the 20-year war, U.S. envoys close their embassy and exit Kabul.

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WASHINGTON — American diplomats have left Afghanistan, and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul will stay closed, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken mentioned on Monday, after the navy introduced that it had accomplished its withdrawal from the nation.

The disintegration of diplomacy was a gorgeous turnabout from plans to remain and assist Afghanistan transition from 20 years of conflict and to work towards peace, nonetheless tenuous, with a authorities that may share energy with the Taliban. This month, Mr. Blinken had pledged that the United States would stay “deeply engaged” in Afghanistan lengthy after the navy left.

But with the Taliban firmly in management, what was one of the largest U.S. diplomatic missions in the world will for now be enormously scaled again, primarily based in Doha, the Qatari capital, and targeted largely on processing visas for refugees and different immigrants.

“Given the uncertain security environment and political situation in Afghanistan, it was the prudent step to take,” Mr. Blinken mentioned in remarks at the State Department.

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

“It’s one in which we will lead with our diplomacy,” Mr. Blinken mentioned, commending the U.S. diplomats, troops and different personnel who had labored at the embassy, which simply final month had employed round 4,000 individuals — together with 1,400 Americans.

Left unsure was whether or not American efforts to stabilize the Afghan authorities would proceed — the most important thrust of years of painstaking work and negotiations with leaders in Kabul that have been supported by billions of {dollars} in American taxpayer funding.

Instead, Mr. Blinken mentioned that any engagement with the Taliban — a longtime U.S. enemy that seized energy when President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan on Aug. 15 — “will be driven by one thing only: our vital national interests.”

Exactly 4 weeks earlier, on Aug. 2, Mr. Blinken had left little doubt that the Biden administration intended to keep the U.S. Embassy in Kabul open.

“Our partnership with the people of Afghanistan will endure long after our service members have departed,” he said then. “We will keep engaging 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 American residents, and tens of hundreds of Afghans, have been left behind in a two-week navy airlift that Mr. Blinken referred to as one of the largest evacuation efforts in U.S. historical past. He demanded that the Taliban keep its word and permit them to depart safely as soon as that they had exit paperwork in hand.

More than 123,000 individuals have been evacuated from Kabul in latest weeks, together with about 6,000 Americans.

Mr. Blinken additionally mentioned that the United States would carefully watch the Taliban’s efforts to stanch terrorism in Afghanistan, as the group has mentioned it would do, and would proceed to work with the worldwide group to offer humanitarian help to hundreds of thousands of Afghans who want meals, medication and well being care after many years of conflict and political instability.

He struck a resolute tone about the diplomatic retreat, and in reminding Americans about the value of the battle.

America’s longest conflict, with its casualties and the sources that have been sunk into it over the previous 20 years, “demands reflection,” Mr. Blinken mentioned.

“We must learn its lessons, and allow those lessons to shape how we think about fundamental questions of national security and foreign policy,” he mentioned. “We owe that to future diplomats, policymakers, military leaders, service members. We owe that to the American people.”

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