Rather than the six to twelve months predicted by the US intelligence services, the Taliban ended up needing just a few days to take Kabul – and with it, control of Afghanistan. Only this morning, the US was asking the Taliban to wait just two weeks until an interim government could be set up. But the US, having withdrawn its troops, ran out of leverage and the Taliban decided not to wait. Joe Biden had intended to support Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president, but he has fled the country. Taliban officials have released photographs of themselves at his desk (below).
The US may now have to liaise with the Taliban for the evacuation of the remaining Americans, who are being told to stay at home and not risk coming to the US embassy or Kabul airport. Defections have started with one Afghan government official releasing a video saying that he has switched sides. Sahraa Karimi, the head of Afghan Film, posted a video saying that the Taliban were now all over Kabul. ‘Hey ppl of the this big world, please do not be silent, they are coming to kill us,’ she said. While she’ll certainly be in the Taliban’s firing line the escape options are limited: priority for evacuation has gone to Western diplomats who are boarding Black Hawks and Chinooks which are taking off from the US embassy. France’s ambassador to Afghanistan released a video of himself fleeing: the US ambassador has also gone.
The House of Commons is to be recalled to discuss this debacle. But other than offer asylum to those fleeing the Taliban, it’s hard to see what else there is for Britain to do. When Joe Biden ordered US troops to withdraw in April, he was criticised by the many in the UK.